Museum set for transformation

The project will involve the transformation and re-design of the library and museum building
The project will involve the transformation and re-design of the library and museum building

A near-half million pound project has been approved which will see the creation
of a multi-purpose cultural and visitor centre within
Banchory Museum.

The development will involve the transformation and re-design of the existing library and museum building.

Approval was given for the £478,000 scheme at a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee last Thursday.

It comes amid the first tranche of grants from a £3.28 million allocation from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Fund.

The initiative is to drive local economic activity and to stimulate and support economic improvements in the heart of communities.

The announcement has been warmly welcomed in the local community.

Anne Lamb, secretary of Banchory Heritage Society, said: “It’s really great that we are getting recognition that something needs to be done with the centre of Banchory and, of course, a big part of it is this building.

“We are very pleased that it’s going to be here and will be integrated.

“It’s going to be at the heart of cultural and heritage activity, that includes library services and what museums do, but also arts, the written word, which can come between both. It’s a great boost.”

Local councillor Ann Ross said she was “absolutely delighted” to see the museum transformation going ahead.

She added: “Having been working quietly behind the scenes with officers, it is extremely satisfying to see this project come to fruition.”

Committee members heard that the aim of the fund is to invest in inclusive growth which supports town centres to become more diverse and sustainable, creating footfall through local improvements and partnerships which encourage town centres to become more vibrant, creative, enterprising and accessible places for their communities.

A specially-constituted panel considered the submitted projects and granted funding to 10 schemes worth £2.7 million, with the majority being worked up by groups independent of the council.

Among the other successful projects is a £66,660 grant to upgrade all the Shire’s town centre car parking infrastructure to a contactless system.

The council says the scheme will ensure reduced parking costs for medium length stays and, together with the contactless payments, will make paying easier and quicker, make parking more accessible and increase the time visitors spend in town centres.

The panel will meet to decide the second round of funding awards in June and, with the fund over-subscribed with eligible projects, competition will be strong.