Legacy for communities as Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER funds continue to enhance local facilities

George Birkett, fabric conveener, Irene Birkett, clerk of board and Rev Bob Fowlie.
George Birkett, fabric conveener, Irene Birkett, clerk of board and Rev Bob Fowlie.

LONGSIDE Community hall is one of five projects to benefit from the latest round of funding by the Aberdeenshire LEADER Local Action Group (LAG),

The September LAG meeting was held at ‘The Lodge’, Strichen Community Park, which was funded by LEADER in 2009 and opened in May 2011.

The combined award of the projects from Round 13 was £317,186 for the five projects, with total costs of £2,731,406.

Included in the latest round of grants was the revitalisation of Longside community hall and a major enhancement of Haddo Country Park.

Longside Hall is run by the local Church of Scotland parish as a community facility for the village of Longside and its hinterland.

The hall is well used and enjoyed by many members of the local community but has problems with internal layout, storage space and energy efficiency.

The project will see the delivery of a programme of works to upgrade and improve facilities within the hall to improve its accessibility to users, while improving its energy efficiency.

This will be achieved by installation of double glazing and new doors throughout the building; internal refitting to create an open and welcoming entrance hall; insulating wall space to reduce heat loss; a small extension to provide a storage room; and the enlargement of toilet facilities.

The project has been developed to ensure that it will directly benefit the community. The improvements made will increase the use and sustainability of a facility in an area which is experiencing above average population growth.

Bill Sarson, of Longside Parish Church Congregational Board, said: “The Congregational Board of Longside Parish Church would like to accord a big thank you to LEADER for the recent generous award in Round 13.

“As more than a quarter of the total cost of our planned hall refurbishment, it undoubtedly makes the difference between the project going ahead or not.

“The LEADER grant will help bring our facilities up to modern standards of heating and insulation.

“The advice provided by the Aberdeenshire LEADER team to help improve our application was invaluable and all contacts with the organisation have been friendly and efficient.”

LEADER is a rural development funding programme which is financed by the European Commission and the Scottish Government and administered locally by Aberdeenshire Council.

It awards grants to projects which demonstrate innovation and community benefit. 116 projects have now been supported to date, with combined LEADER awards of £4.09million and total project costs of £16.14million.

A number of the projects will enhance Aberdeenshire’s recreational, sporting and tourist facilities and provide an important legacy for rural communities.

As well as the projects at Longside and Haddo the cash will also aid a study for a potential traditional boatbuilding facility in Portsoy; a new community sport facility and pavilion in Newburgh and the construction of a new village hall for Daviot.

Commenting on the awards, Belinda Miller, Rural Aberdeenshire LAG chairperson, said: “The projects approved in Round 13 of the Rural Aberdeenshire LEADER programme show a clear commitment to the enhancement of community facilities in the area.

“The five projects will benefit rural areas in individual ways but will all contribute to the delivery enhanced community facilities that will contribute to social inclusion and wellbeing.

“The reason that the LEADER approach succeeds is not only due to the variety of projects which it supports, but also its ability to deliver a broader strategy which will continue to revitalise communities and provide the legacy of a thriving rural society.”