A BUSINESS plan regarding the future running of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park has been approved by councillors this week.
The business plan, which was prepared by the Stonehaven Town Partnership, proposes that the organisation leases the land on a long-term basis from Aberdeenshire Council, and then in turn goes on to lease it out to the Caravan Club of Great Britain, who intend to run the site.
The STP are expected to take on the lease from the local authority at a reduced rate, but members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee were told that the benefits of the arrangement, which woud see significant investment in the site and renewed tourism interest would be worth it.
Addressing the committee, Area Manager Willie Munro said that the Caravan Club intends to invest £1.7 million in to bringing the site up to their standards, including a complete revamp of the toilet blocks, a mini shop providing essentials, and a complete re-design of the site which would leave space for tents and a small amount of static caravans.
Water and waste disposal will be improved on the site, and the Caravan Club are currently preparing a planning application for these improvements. He added that Aberdeenshire Council could not afford to have made these improvements themselves.
The Caravan Club’s proposals have been met with concern by static caravan owners, many of whom will be forced to find elsewhere to keep their caravans as Caravan Club sites are mainly for touring caravans and campers.
Mr Munro said: “Of course it presents a very big challenge for the static owners because they need to find somewhere to put their caravans. We will try to help them as much as we can but at the end of the day it is a year by year arrangement and this does seem the best way forward.”
Members were also asked to agree that the Stonehaven Town Partnership is an appropriate body with which to enter into a Community Asset Transfer arrangement.
Mr Munro said: “Questions have been raised about the ability and suitability of the STP to take on this role. Issues raised have been to do with the organisation’s future resilience and some questions over their accounting.
“We are comfortable with the arrangement as it stands, and are confident that the income from the caravan park will be identifiable and not just thrown into one big pot.”
Councillors agreed unanimously to support the business plan.
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside COuncillor Mike Sullivan said: “This is an extremely good idea and we should give it our blessing.”
Mearns Councilor George Carr agreed, saying: “We have got an opportunity to see something exciting happening in Stonehaven.
“A lot of work has gone in to getting to this point behind the scenes and the Stonehaven Town Partnership have shown great dedication. I agree with the reccommendation and wish it well.”