Residents to get say on how Kinneil Estate’s walled gardens can be best used

Bo'ness residents are being invited to have a final say on how Kinneil Estate's walled garden could best be used in the future.

The ideas being proposed came from previous consultations with local people, which began in June 2019 after the council-run nursery was closed for good.

Suggestions include: keeping space for community growing and allotments; opening a community cafe; and having an open area that could be used for lots of different pop-up events.

After a good response from local residents to the first consultations, the pandemic put everything on hold.

Kinneil House Estate (Picture Michael Gillen)

Mandy Brown, who is leading the project for Falkirk Council, said: "Lockdown obviously slowed down progress but it also gave us time to look in detail at what folk were saying and pull it together.

"We've tried to address residents' concerns - we didn't want to upset anyone - and we've tried to include as many uses as possible.

"We hope people will be excited by the ideas that are being put forward."

By far the most popular idea was to keep the area used by Sustainable Thinking Scotland which grows food for the local food bank.

Many residents were also keen to see allotments, so the plan has set aside quite a lot of ground for this.

For other ideas to go ahead - in particular the community cafe - a business or third sector group would need to take it forward, but Mandy says they are keen to hear from people who could make this happen.

Other areas will be flexible, with moveable planters and seating, which mean the space can be adapted in many ways.

Any changes will have to fit into any future plans for the historic Kinneil House and the estate as a whole - which is part of a World Heritage Site.

They will also have to respect the privacy of those living nearby.

Plans to develop the estate have been spoken about for several years, with the area earmarked for 'transformation' according to Falkirk Council's most recent review of its properties.

The Friends of Kinneil welcomed the improvements that are being made to the walled garden but is also urging Falkirk Council to give fresh impetus to its 2015 masterplan for the estate, which promised to help achieve its full potential for attracting visitors.

One big change that is already underway is work being done to repair the walls surrounding the garden.

Mandy said: "The will make a huge difference because at the moment there is hoarding along the north wall at the bottom of the site which detracts from the views of Kinneil House.

"The new gates will also offer better views in and out of the garden.

"The work done so far has made a difference because the site just feels more welcoming.

"Once the space starts to look better, I really think it will make a big difference to the Kinneil estate."

Comments can be made by June 18 by emailing [email protected] or writing to her at Abbotsford House, David’s Loan, Falkirk, FK2 7YZ.

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