A scheme to bring about improvements to the appearance of Aboyne town centre has taken a major step forward following the awarding of a grant of more than ￡£87,000.
The funding, from Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER, will be matched by other funding from Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.
Community company Mid Deeside Limited (MDL) has been working with Scottish Enterprise to develop the proposals, which would see businesses in the village receiving grant assistance to improve their frontages and increase retail activity in the village.
The early stages of the project were developed by Scottish Enterprise (SE), working with Aboyne-based DWR Architecture, with a meeting being held in August 2010.
MDL were contracted by SE to work with local businesses and to submit an application for funding to Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER.
Chairman of MDL, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “The timescale was pretty tight but building on earlier work, we consulted all the businesses in Aboyne that we knew might be interested in participating, before writing and submitting the application. There was an overwhelmingly positive response, with some 25 businesses willing to take part.
“The project will bring together public and private sector partners in a way that has not been tried before in rural Scotland and will see over £230,000 being invested to make Aboyne even more attractive for residents and visitors.
“Alongside the physical work to be undertaken, the project will also bring considerable resources to bear on promoting the area, encouraging visitors to come to Aboyne and to spend time here.
“I am delighted that MDL has secured this funding for the community. Building on the innate attractiveness of the village was one of the major aspirations from the Community Action Plan launched only last month.
“This project will go a long way towards meeting those aspirations, especially when taken in conjunction with other work being undertaken by Aberdeenshire Council and Scottish Enterprise to improve significantly the signage in Aboyne.”
The Aboyne funding was one of six new projects to have been awarded funding from LEADER’s Local Action Group (LAG) programme.
The latest projects included path improvements and health walks in Mid-Deeside, which received a grant of £52,500.
The project covers two elements relating to outdoor access. The first will be a series of path improvements in the Torphins, Lumphanan and Tarland areas. The improvements will encourage wider community use of the path networks in proximity to these settlements and will also provide recreational facilities to visitors in Mid-Deeside.
The second element of the project is the co-ordination of a programme of health walks in the Marr area. These walks are volunteer-led and many target specific groups e.g. Alzheimer’s, weight-loss and smoking cessation. The grant will fund the employment of a volunteer co-ordinator, who will work with local groups and local GPs, to deliver the health walks.
Belinda Miller, Rural Aberdeenshire LAG chairwoman, said: “The latest LEADER applications demonstrate a diverse range of projects and good geographic coverage across Aberdeenshire. While all projects relate to LEADER’s overarching theme of revitalising communities, the economic aspects are also important. For example, the project at Aboyne aims to raise the profile of the Mid-Deeside town and, through a marketing plan, will ultimately draw more visitors to the area which will benefit local outlets and producers.
Vicky Thomson, LEADER Co-ordinator, said: “Once again the LAG has supported a variety of great projects that will really make a difference in communities across Aberdeenshire.”
Applications for Round 13 of LEADER are being accepted until Tuesday, August 2, and will be assessed by the Local Action Group at a meeting on Monday, September 12.
Information on the application process are availableat: www.aberdeenshireleader.org