A “philanthropic” landowner has unveiled his vision to transform a patch of former farmland into a haven for gardeners, cyclists and adventurous youngsters.
The section of the Carron Valley in Stonehaven, which is owned by David Morrison, will be divided into different parts under ambitious blueprints lodged with Aberdeenshire Council.
Mr Morrison has applied to build a new home at the spot near his current property on Riverside Drive – but alongside that work wants to create several much-needed amenities for locals.
A new bike park, which would be the first of its kind in the region, is part of the masterplan for the coastal town.
Other proposals for the land between Riverside Drive and the river Carron Water include designated areas for gardening and adventure play.
Proposed site plan:
1. Proposed allotments/nursery for Stonehaven Horizon
– Terrace of allotments on south facing slope for use by local residents and identified in full, half and quarter sized plots.
2. Proposed cycle skills area
– For use by surrounding residents and Grampian Tigers Youth Cycling Club.
3. Proposed Scout adventure and recreation Area
– For use by Stonehaven Scouts. The main Scout Hall is located on Mill of Forest Road within easy walking distance.
Mr Morrison has owned the land sloping down from the rear of Riverside Drive for approximately 13 years.
The planning papers explain that he has looked after what had become an overgrown patch of former agricultural land.
The document states: “Following a grant of planning permission in principle the land for the allotments, bike park and scout area will be transferred to the relevant community groups to implement.
“The house and wider footpath improvements will be implemented by Mr Morrison, who will continue to own and maintain the wider area for the benefit of the local community.
“The land historically formed part Newbigging Farm surrounded by Dunnottar, Mill of Forest and the Combination Poorhouse.
“This section of the Carron Valley is owned by the applicant and since the completion of
the properties Mr Morrison has maintained and improved the amenity of this area for the benefit of public use.
“Prior to this, the area was overgrown and unusable for public access.
“This space is in private ownership and its use and value depends on the philanthropic efforts of the applicant.”
‘Unique’ bike park
The new bike park proposed in connection with the Grampian Tigers Youth Cycling Club will feature longer and more challenging circuits to cater for all abilities.
The facility will be the first specialised play space for cyclists in Stonehaven – with club members currently having to travel to Aboyne or Tarland.
The proposal states that this will benefit all 45 club members, between the ages of seven and 16, by “increasing social interaction” and boosting “children’s imagination and physical activity”.
Christopher Jones, one of the coaches at Grampian Tigers, hopes the new park will help their aspiring young cyclists develop new skills and also attract new members.
He said: “It’s very difficult for us to find a place where we can safely coach the kids, as the areas we use are all public spaces with people walking their dogs and other kids playing.
“So developing this specialist facility in Stonehaven would be an excellent focal point for our members to learn to ride their bikes and develop their skills in a safe environment.
“It would also be a tremendous asset for introducing new members, as the bike park would be unique and the first of its kind in the area.”
As well as providing a modern facility for Grampian Tigers, the bike park will be open for the whole community and can also be used by people on skateboards and roller skates.
Land for community growing
Another section of the Carron Valley has been designed for allotments.
The planning documents, lodged with the council, say: “In discussion with Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services, it is identified that there is a
demand for increased community growing spaces and allotments and there is financial support for community groups available.
“The main challenge is access to land that is accessible.
“It is understood that the waiting list for an allotment in Stonehaven is currently 10-15 years and new applicants are not being taken onto the waiting list.”
The report states that the land would be rented to Stonehaven Allotment Association or other community group such as Stonehaven Horizon for a small fee, for them to be able to set up and manage the scheme.
Richard Corbett, who is a member of the Stonehaven Allotment Association, said: “There is a big requirement for allotments with more and more people showing interest in home and community growing.
“It’s something that appeals to people of all ages and it could be beneficial for everybody in the community, including schools and charities.
“I don’t see any negatives in getting some extra land to get more people out and about – it’s a fantastic idea that will get the town bouncing again.”
More space for Scouts
An area of ground has also been identified for the use of the Stonehaven Scout Group, who are currently limited by space restrictions.
The Scout Club Adventure and Recreation area will benefit more than 100 scouts and group leaders by providing suitable land for outdoor activities and planting as part of the scouting curriculum.
Mr Morrison was not available for comment.