Aden Country Park Restoration & Redevelopment Project

Heritage Lottery Fund - Parks for People Programme

Project Summary




In February 2016, Aberdeenshire Council applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Parks for People programme for an ambitious £1.785million restoration and redevelopment project for Aden Country Park in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire. The first-round project application was approved and in June 2016 Aberdeenshire Council were awarded a grant of £149,500 towards the £212,500, 18-month project Development Phase.


Following the successful conclusion of the development phase, a detailed second-round funding application to the HLF was submitted on the 28th February 2018. Match funding support includes £234k + £309k non-cash contribution from Aberdeenshire Council, £200k from Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, £44k from Historic Environment Scotland, £23k from the Gordon & Ena Baxter Foundation, and £71k of Volunteer Time.




These applications have been submitted to achieve our vision for Aden Country Park where we plan to enhance, promote, and conserve Aden’s rich cultural, architectural, archaeological and natural heritage, creating a sustainable, high-quality visitor destination in rural Aberdeenshire for present and future generations to enjoy. In addition, we aim to help as many people as possible get involved with the heritage of Aden Country Park through opportunities for volunteering, community participation, audience development, interpretation, training and learning.


Development Phase (Round 1)


The project development phase was informed by a number of invaluable consultation opportunities which enabled the identification of the gaps and needs of users, which in turn informed several supporting documents including an activity plan, business plan, design proposals, as well as informing our second-round funding application.




  • The Foresters Cottage works to conserve and restore a semi-derelict building and provide on-site self-catering accommodation have been extracted from our HLF project. Funding applications to LEADER and Historic Environment Scotland have now been submitted.  

  • Plans have been developed to use the ground floor of the Coach House as an interpretation and orientation hub for the park. Centrally located in the courtyard, our project will open up this space to better connect users with the heritage of the park and signpost park facilities.   

  • A major investment is being made in an improved landscaping of the arrival courtyard. The current courtyard layout directs users away from key features and the use of loose stone impacts upon the accessibility of the space.

  • Pathworks will now direct pedestrians away from the vehicle access route and will provide a far more engaging experience. Overall accessibility and DDA compliance works feature more strongly than at the first-round application stage.

  • Significant development work has been carried out through the Archaeology programme and our second-round reflects this high level of engagement and excitement locally about the continuation of uncovering and sharing an enhanced understanding of the park.

  • The resource required for staffing has also been increased. It has become clear that the roles that were included in the first-round application required re-profiling and a larger budget.  

  • The resulting total project costs, have increased from £1.785million to £2.130million, crucially with no increase to the HLF grant request of £1.25million. This reduces the intervention rate from 70% to 59%.


Delivery Phase (Round 2)


The main strands of the proposed project delivery phase include:


  • A range of improvements to visitor facilities throughout such as improved main road access, upgraded courtyard surfacing, path works, the opening up of the ground floor of the Coach House to develop an interactive Interpretation, Education & Activity Area and wildlife and farming heritage trails.

  • Improvements to the biodiversity of habitats for plants and wildlife including works to the Mill Pond, new planting, the control of invasive species and woodland management.

  • The development of environmental, archaeological and heritage-related volunteer and learning opportunities.

  • A new relocated adventure play area aimed at children of all ages and abilities.

  • The creation of outdoor learning classrooms with a new pond dipping platform, wildlife shelter, nature and heritage trails and outdoor learning classrooms.

  • The uncovering, recording, and interpretation of a series of significant archaeological sites including a Bronze Age settlement, lost Keith Tower, Mansion House, Stone Circle and WW1 trenches.

  • Formal learning programmes and resources developed for schools to complement the curriculum for excellence.

  • The stabilisation of the Gardener’s Cottage and the repurposing of the Grieve’s House to create new enterprises and new income sources in the future.

  • The conservation of Aden’s designed landscape including the restoration of structures such as the three historic lodges, features and planting along with the stabilisation of at risk buildings.

  • The development of a wide range of interpretation e.g. interpretation centre, smartphone app, films, website, leaflets and panels, to encourage visitors to engage with Aden’s natural, built, cultural and archaeological heritage.

  • The delivery of a wide range of heritage related events and activities aimed at all types of audiences.




The Legacy of successful redevelopment at Aden Country Park will be:


  1. A Park which reflects its Past

Conserving and enhancing the ‘Essence’ of Aden will uncover its rich History & Archaeology for both visitors and the local community.


  1. A Park for the Community

Linking physical works with audience needs to breathe new life into the Country Park. Maximising opportunities to support the local economy and the variety of social enterprises already underway.


  1. A Park for Health

Animating the place, broadening appeal and maximising choices for sustainable access for the increasing local population.


  1. A Park for all People & Children

Creating an accessible and diverse range of activity both active and passive. Creating a place for play, education and quiet contemplation.


  1. A Park of benefit to the Environment

Enhancing Aden’s biodiversity and promoting sustainability through positive park management and maintenance & exploration of its natural attributes.

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