Mearns mill project moves a stage closer

Mill of Benholm Enterprise has plans to rejuvenate the mill complex
Mill of Benholm Enterprise has plans to rejuvenate the mill complex

A community group aiming to breathe new life into a former Mearns mill has been given the go-ahead.

Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee unanimously supported a community asset transfer for Mill of Benholm at its meeting on Tuesday - to the delight of those behind the project.

Committee members also recommended to the Business Services Committee that the transfer proceeds without conditions.

For several years, Mill of Benholm Enterprise has been working towards rejuvenating the complex of buildings near Johnshaven into an educational facility and community cafe.

The category A-listed buildings, which are owned by Aberdeenshire Council, are described by Historic Environment Scotland as “an exceptional and rare survival”.

But while the group wants to take on ownership of the mill for £1 and offer enhanced education and workshop facilities along with a cafe through a major fundraising effort, council officers recently claimed the figures didn’t add up.

The area committee deferred a decision in July after officers considered that “gaps and errors” still remained in the business plan and there were serious concerns it did not represent best value for money to the authority.

Following discussions with the group, officials recommended approval of the asset transfer application, providing project funding commitments are identified.

Chair of Mill of Benholm Enterprise, Mairi Eddie, said after Tuesday’s meeting: “We are delighted that councillors decided to approve our asset transfer request as this takes us a big step closer to community ownership.

“Councillors also listened to our concerns over the funding conditions suggested in the report and agreed to remove them which will help us greatly as we go forward and apply for funding.

“This now goes to the Business Services Committee and we hope they will approve this decision when they meet in November.”