MORAY IS SET to witness the creation of one of the largest outdoor activity complexes ever seen in the region thanks to the generosity of a local landowner and the vision of an award-winning local charity.
The exciting new development was launched at the Innes Estate on Monday where owner Mark Tennant revealed that he and his family had gifted 100 acres of land and buildings to outdoor pursuits charity Outfit Moray.
Forming a large part of the former MoD airfield and remaining buildings at Milltown, the site is on land that was originally owned by the family before being taken over by the defence chiefs at the start of the second world war.
After decades of use by the RAF and Fleet Air Arm, the land was returned to the ownership of the family two years ago, having seen all military use end in 2006. On learning that Outfit Moray had ambitions to create an outdoor learning and activity hub, Mr Tennant met with their CEO, Ian Rideout, to discuss the possible use of part of the land on the estate.
The result of their discussions last summer was an ambitions feasibility study completed in October – and now 100 acres of the site is to be taken over by Outfit Moray at a peppercorn rent of just £1 a year for the next 30 years, making way for Outfit Moray’s long-held ambitions to become a £2million reality by this time next year.
“I really want what we are doing here to be an example of how landowners can work in partnership with community and charitable groups,” Mr Tennant said, adding: “It is not always about trying to buy land for community use when landowners are happy to make land available for projects that will make such a huge a difference to the lives of others.
“I am giving what is a significant part of an old airfield for what is, I believe, a unique and well planned project that will benefit large numbers of vulnerable children and young people, not just in Moray but across Scotland. I am absolutely delighted to be able to help make this happen.”
Outdoor Learning Hub
Outfit Moray plans to convert existing buildings on the site into a new community outdoor learning centre and hub from which they will operate and facilitate a myriad of activities, mainly aimed at young people but also providing opportunities for use by any local community group.
Ian Rideout said: “We have been in discussions with Mark Tennant and the Innes Estate for the last eight months and with funding from Legacy 2014 we have been able to undertake a detailed feasibility study to determine the viability of this project.
“We are extremely grateful to Mark and his Family for giving us the land and buildings at Milltown Airfield, to pursue what has been a concept we have been developing for the last 10 years.
“The project at Milltown airfield will not only enable us to develop the charitable and socially enterprising work that we do, but most importantly provide us with the facilities to transform the lives of more young people through learning and adventure outdoors.
“The airfield includes a 5km perimeter that is in surprisingly good condition and serves the purpose of being used as a safe off-road cycling track.
“The new complex will ultimately provide indoor and outdoor facilities, opening the possibilities for a number of adventure activities including for those who may have physical limitations or visual impairment.”
First phase complete in a year?
The first phase of the project will see the former communication centre on the site transformed into a new base for Outfit Moray and indoor offices, workshops and facilities that will see the site operational 363 days a year.
The old runways and taxi-ways will be cleared of debris, weed and moss growth, with repairs also put into effect with help from 39 Engineering Regiment at Kinloss Barracks. New fencing will also be erected and access improvements put in place.
All the new facilities will be off-grid – and so will use biomass combined heating and power utilizing wood chip sourced from the sustainable woodland on the Innes Estate, roof-mounted solar power panels and possibly a small low-level wind turbine.
Another area of the site is being marked out for building living accommodation for residential activities such as glamping or camping, with four wooden pods also being built to provide up to 24 bed spaces.
Mr Rideout said: “The Community Outdoor Learning and Adventure Hub will cost about £2million to bring to fruition with a target date of January 2017 being set for the completion of the first phase.
“Outfit Moray is already actively fundraising and is in discussions with a number of potential funders.”