Need for this project
A consultation process was undertaken by Aberfeldy Community Council to garner the feelings of residents in relation to a number of issues which could be improved within Aberfeldy. Of those who responded 79% stated that they would like to see the Lower Birks improved.
The Lower Birks is an attractive recreational space and pedestrian and cycle route which connects the town to the Upper Birks of Aberfeldy. However, through lack of maintenance this area had become increasingly overgrown by trees self-seeding, lack of light through the unchecked growth of surrounding trees and shrubs and increasingly damp and muddy through the lack of proper drainage.
Aberfeldy Move2Improve recognised an opportunity to undertake a project to enhance the environment of the Lower Birks and to provide a new amenity for residents and visitors.
A rough sketch was produced outlining how the area might look which was used as a discussion document and remit for the project description.
The design included new pathways leading to and from a central sculpture. Surrounding the sculpture would be a circular stone seating area and planting areas. Picnic tables were also set out along the pathways. A new drainage system would be installed. Selective pruning and removal of trees would allow more light to the area. The area was to be fully disabled accessible.
Project Design & Cost
Chris Palmer Associates was appointed as landscape architect to provide detailed design and project management services.
A budget of £74,341 was agreed for the project so that we were able to start raising funds.
Project Fund Raising
During the period from December 2015 to March 2017. With the support of Take A Pride In Perthshire, Aberfeldy Move2Improve secured all the funding from the groups below for the project.
Griffin & Calliachar Community Fund - £50,000
Perth & Kinross Council Community Environment Challenge Fund - £15,000
Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Programme 2014-2020 Fund - £8,841
Aberfeldy Move2Improve - £1,200
Communication Throughout 2015 - 2018
Aberfeldy Move2Improve has made presentations to Aberfeldy Community Council meetings and received letters of support from local Councillors for the Lower Birks project. Regular articles have been published in the Breadalbane Quair. The project along with detailed drawings were displayed in the window of MISWACO. Throughout 2016/2017 drawings were also on display at various fund raising events. Updates were also published on Facebook.
During December 2015 tree work was carried out by Perth & Kinross Community Greenspace to remove storm damaged trees, non- native trees and selective thinning of over-shading conifer trees to open up the area to provide greater light. Now looks great.
Aberfeldy Move2Improve received full Planning Consent for the Lower Birks project and permission from SEPA to outfall the land drainage into the Moness Burn. We also agreed and signed the Lease to Occupy the Lower Birks.
Chainsaw Creations in the Black Isle was approached to design a wooden sculpture as the central feature. The sculpture was to include animals and bird’s native to the Lower Birks area. The design and cost was agreed in 2016. Photo 5
Tender package containing Tender documents, Schedule of Works and drawings were issued to five contractors tendering for the work. Following a Tender report by Chris Palmer Associates, it was agreed to award the contract to Alex Butters Landscaping.
Alex Butters Landscaping started on site on 2nd October 2017.
New drainage system was installed. Work also started on the general shaping and path in-fill throughout the site and construction of the stone wall foundation and seating area.
During November and December 2017, new pathways, picnic areas and stone wall seating were all completed. The wooden sculpture was installed in the raised central area. Two picnic benches were also installed. New oak benches fitted onto the stone wall. The benches are engraved with the first verse of a poem by Robert Burns “The Birks of Aberfeldy”.
Project was completed on 5th February 2018 and within budget.