WHAT does the restoration of the Recreation Grounds pavilion have in common with our new boardwalk and the Market Square Community Garden?
Answer: all of them are being paid for by grants – money that would have gone elsewhere if the people behind these Stonehaven projects had not successfully bid for it.
And such is the importance of external funding to our town centres that Aberdeenshire Council has just launched a Town Centre Tool Kit to help community groups prepare for funding applications.
There are scores of grant sources that can be applied to for projects of any size. But such funding is often ring-fenced and can only be used for very specific purposes as set down in their criteria. To get the loot, projects must conform to these requirements – and be thoroughly scoped out and costed. All of this takes a great deal of thought, time and effort – often by volunteers.
Aberdeenshire Council’s digital tool kit showcases how and why schemes have been successful in applying for funding and help other groups develop their initiatives accordingly.
So where did Stonehaven’s current projects get their money?
The trustees of the Recreation Grounds secured £92,069 from Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who recently paid out almost £2 million to over 40 Scottish organisations. This funding was aimed at supporting the recovery of Scotland’s historic environment sector from the impacts of COVID-19.
The replacement of the boardwalk was made possible by £265,000 awarded from the Aberdeenshire Town Centre Fund – money that came in turn from the Scottish Government’s 2019/2021 Town Centre Fund.
Additional funding was also secured from the Coastal Communities Fund (£30,000) and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (£45,000) to further enhance the seafront by providing the new seating areas, finger-pointer signage and information and interpretation boards.
And the community garden, which will provide seating and planting at the north pends of the Market Square Building, is the outcome of a successful bid to Aberdeenshire Council’s Phoenix Fund (£10,000) and the Scottish Government Town Centres Fund (£48,700).
How funding could help Stonehaven going forward
Stonehaven and District Community Council chairman Bill Watson flagged the new toolkit at their meeting last week.
He later told The Bellman: ”The vibrancy of Stonehaven’s town centre, with its wide range of small businesses and street fairs has been part of what has made our town so special.
”As well bringing with it considerable personal tragedy, COVID-19 has put this vibrancy under threat, with many businesses having to stop trading for considerable periods of time.
”There is now, however, an increased interest is staying local, shopping local and making better use of local facilities, which could help our town in the long-term.”
Mr Watson said the Aberdeenshire Council’s new Town Centre Tool Kit and the Scottish Government’s new Town Centre Action Plan suggest there may now be support available for turning round the challenges facing our town centre.
He added: ”The Community Council is to find out more, with a view to helping the town make the most of this opportunity.”