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Plans for new centre at Moray eco village in limbo after funding rejections

Findhorn Foundation
Findhorn Foundation

The residents of a Moray eco village are determined to progress with plans to create a £1.6million visitor centre – but admitted they are in limbo after appeals for funding were rejected.

People living at the Findhorn Foundation have worked towards bringing the new venue to fruition for 20 years.

Last summer, they gained planning permission from Moray Council to create the energy-efficient building at the entrance to the park.

But, although the group subsequently appealed for donations from the Big Lottery Fund and the Coastal Communities Fund, their applications were knocked back, and organisers appreciate their initiative can’t move forward without money.

The centre has been proposed as a means of creating a gateway to the park for tourists.

The Phoenix shop and the community cafe, both of which are believed to date back to World War II, will join the visitor centre under the same roof should the scheme go ahead.

Shop owner, David Hammond, is helping to lead the venture – but he conceded it still remains “just a dream”.

Mr Hammond said: “We were happy when we got permission for this, but getting the money together has been more of a challenge than we anticipated.

“Until we get a fairly substantial tranche of funding, or secure long-term loans, it can’t go ahead.

“It could be that we have to go ahead with a downscaled design. But we will keep on applying, because we certainly remain hopeful we can make this a reality.”

Mr Hammond is convinced of the benefits of the idea and he added: “We already enjoy a lot of visitors, but we want to make the park more friendly towards them.

“This new centre would have a cafe and restaurant on the top floor, which would offer views of Findhorn and the coast.”

The planned building is glass-fronted, and has solar panels, in keeping with the village’s environmental ethos.

The Findhorn Foundation began devising the venue in 2012, after a Highlands and Islands Enterprise study highlighted the need for better facilities.

Roughly 30,000 tourists visit the site every year, and the centre has been designed to include information about its history and other Moray attractions.

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