Stonehaven Town Partnership seek local views in new report

Improved access at Dunnottar Castle is one of the ideas mooted in the report (photo by Margo Wilson).
Improved access at Dunnottar Castle is one of the ideas mooted in the report (photo by Margo Wilson).

Stonehaven Town Partnership (STP) have published a report looking into ideas for redevelopment for the future of the town.

The views in the 15-page report follow a series of three ‘Planning For Real’ events, organised by STP for residents to look at different areas of the town and record what issues, suggestions and comments they had.

It looks at current talking points such as the need for a major supermarket, the possibility of development at the harbour, a suggestion to redevelop the Recreation Grounds and ways of improving the town’s top two tourist attractions - Dunnottar Castle and the Olympic-size open air swimming pool.

The report says: “The process allows residents to register their views on a range of issues, to work together to identify priorities, and - in partnership with local agencies - go on to develop an action plan for change.”

Stonehaven Town Partnership - which incorporates around 50 community organisations - is also behind “Plan B,” an ambitious concept aimed at creating “the kind of innovative thoughts and ideas which are needed in order to produce a viable development, capable of attracting visitors to Stonehaven on an all year round basis.”

This includes an independent study into providing a new supermarket for the area, which looked at 12 potential sites in and around the town.

The top two came out as Spurryhillock industrial estate to the west of the town and Stonehaven Recreation Grounds.

The Plan B study concluded Spurryhillock had space and traffic issues while the Recreation Grounds were not currently in the planning system and would create legal hurdles.

The new STP report lists suggestions and comments made by residents on the Beach Road area and nearby Recreation Grounds, including the view: “Retain the whole area for recreation purposes. No supermarket or other commercial development.”

But other public suggestions for the Recreation Grounds site include “more diverse use for wider population.”

Another comment says: “Remove the caravans from the Recreation Grounds and release the area for a hotel, conference centre, new sports facilities or employment.”

STP says it has made attempts to contact the Recreation Grounds Trustees.

Comments on the open air pool include fitting a retractable roof to make it “viable and future-proof.” Another success was the call for an all-weather sports facility at Mineralwell Park, which is now going ahead.

Issues for the old town and harbour included residential and visitor parking; major harbour development; facility improvement for both locals and visitors and possible pedestrianisation.

The report says these issues are expected to be covered in the Stonehaven Harbour Development Feasibility Study, being conducted by STP and Aberdeenshire Council, which should be available soon.

One comment called for a ban on outdoor drinking outside harbour pubs but Aberdeenshire Licensing Board responded that a byelaw was not considered “appropriate or required,” adding: “This is an important tourist area, especially in good weather.”

The report notes the success last year of the new land train, which goes back and forth to Dunnottar Castle. It says the group will continue to push for all-year-round opening of the Bervie Braes road overlooking Stonehaven.

Public suggestions for Dunnottar Castle included calls for access and path improvements, additional toilets and creation of a tourism centre. Owners Dunecht Estates said they were looking at access and path improvements but have confirmed that, at present, there will be no additional toilets or a tourism centre.

STP trustee David Fleming said: “The Planning For Real reports have been the completion of a long exercise which shows that public consultation works.

‘‘A significant number of suggestions were raised by members of the public and have been implemented by various agencies. STP is grateful for all of the comments that were made and for the help of all of the agencies in delivering a better Stonehaven”.

Many of the issues in the report have been referred back to different bodies, like Aberdeenshire Council, Community Education, the Horizon (floral display) Group, Stonehaven Allotment Association, the Caravan Club, Friends of Stonehaven Open Air Pool and Stonehaven Community All Weather Sports Facility Committee.

Other issues, raised by consultation, include the problems of dog fouling, litter, seagull menace and “boy racers.”

There were also calls for increased police foot patrols, creating a new cemetery at Fetteresso, improved parking and garden waste collections.

A request had also been made to increase parking in the Old Town and STP and Aberdeenshire Council have contacted the selling agents about possibly using the former gas works site near the harbour.

The report also highlights the need for improved accommodation at Dunnottar primary school, suggestions for the former sheriff court building and whether better use could be made of the town’s Baird Park.

A call was made to modernise and upgrade the town’s Leisure Centre, but the council says there is currently no money available in the capital plan for major work, although the gym was fitted with new equipment in 2013.

STP have lodged a Community Asset Transfer bid to take over the beach public toilets.

Calls were made for no more building at the Braehead area, with fears expressed about drainage problems leading to increased flooding in the town.

The Stonehaven Town Partnership website is on: http://stpweb.org

What do you think of the STP report’s findings? Do you agree with the views presented? Get in touch and let us know.