Stonehaven Campaigners Celebrate as Popular Local Park is Finally Safe

setting sun gives golden glow to scene across park

By David Officer –

A campaign group in Stonehaven is celebrating today following confirmation from local councillors that the park they were fighting to save is not going to be sold or developed.

The “Save Forest Drive Park Campaign” started in October 2021 when Mackie Rugby Club announced a plan to use Community Asset Transfer legislation to take over the park in the west of the town and turn it into their new home. The development would have meant the existing park would be fenced off and public access restricted to a path around the planned rugby pitches surrounded by high fences.

Following a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Business Services Committee in January, councillors rejected the proposed asset transfer for a second time (it had previously been rejected unanimously by the Council’s Kincardine and Mearns Committee).

Mackie Rugby Club had a period where they could lodge an appeal. Cllr Sarah Dickinson has confirmed to the campaign group that this period has now lapsed with no appeal being lodged and the asset transfer request is now closed.

Residents came together to voice their concerns about this development in autumn 2021, quickly forming a campaign group to inform local people about the issue and planning how to save the park. The campaign culminated in residents presenting a petition with 1165 signatures gathered door to door in the town from families who were against the park being sold to the rugby club and public access being removed. 

The key concerns were the loss of Stonehaven’s largest flat green space which is used by a large number of elderly and disabled residents who often struggle in the town’s main parks and woods due to steep hills or rough paths. A survey conducted by the group highlighted that most residents who used the park were over 20 minutes walk away from alternative green spaces which would also involve children having to cross some of the busiest roads in the town.

Fiona Stewart for Save Forest Drive Park said: “It’s been a long and difficult campaign to save this important green space for Stonehaven. We’re very pleased to finally confirm that the park is safe and will remain publicly owned by Aberdeenshire Council. 

”All of us wish the rugby club the best of luck and goodwill as they work to find a long-term solution for the future of the club. We were clear from the start that as local residents we all support Mackie Rugby Club and see it as a great local sports club that works hard for the town but this was never the right space for them or for the town.

”Communities and community groups shouldn’t be pitted against one another to fight for existing public green spaces, especially when there are so many planned private developments on the fringes of the town included in the local development plan.

”Our next step is to look at securing the park long term and finding ways to support improvements to it which will benefit the community without limiting access for those who already use it. “

Save Forest Drive Park now hope to form a Friends of Forest Park community group to raise money for improvements and to work with Aberdeenshire Council on the long-term future of the park. A public meeting for those interested in this new group will be announced in due course via the groups facebook page: www.facebook.com/saveforestdrivepark