Visitors to a popular Aberdeenshire country estate could soon be charged for parking to support its continued success.
Aberdeenshire Council has approved an application for a 30-year lease of the car park at Haddo House and Estate.
Bosses at Haddo Country Park want to introduce parking fees to help fund future events and staffing, describing it as “the only way” to raise the income needed.
In a document submitted to the local authority, Haddo Country Park Forum director Mark Andrew said income would cover the wages of a visitor services officer (VSO) and help with the organisation of attractions and events, such as the Magical Forest at Halloween.
And he said the step would support the improvement of the country park as “a special place”.
The company claims the addition of a VSO has brought “great benefit” to visitors, the park and its profile as major tourist attraction in the north-east.
Bosses have agreed to pay the council 10% of net profits or £500 a year in rent, whichever is greater.
The local authority will continue to bear the cost of some maintenance but will ring-fence the money raised in rent to pay for necessary work.
Council officers value the site at £5,000 a year on the rental market.
Mr Andrew said: “The only way we are going to raise income is to charge a reasonable rate for use of the car park.
“Money that is raised from the fees will all be spent in Haddo Country Park on the VSO and their work or improvements to the park.
“All the user groups at Haddo agree it is really vital to have someone here to promote the park and organise events to the benefit of the wider public.
“The numbers visiting Haddo Country Park have increased quite significantly since improvements were made in the regeneration.”
A recent survey found visitors are “largely supportive” of a car park charge, provided it was reasonable and income generated was spent at Haddo.
Mr Andrew added: “We are just after a reasonable regular user charge.”
Haddo Country Park Forum has until January to accept the lease and community asset transfer agreement.