An ambitious plan to attract new funding into historic Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness has been endorsed by Falkirk Council’s Executive Committee.
The Kinneil Estate Masterplan outlines a range of opportunities for the park, which is dominated by the imposing Kinneil House, dating back to the 15th century.
Suggested improvements could make the site more attractive to local people and visitors from further afield. Councillors were told proposals within the plan could lead to a “transformation” of the site, through a series of “innovative and well marketed visitor experiences”.
Kinneil Estate, covering nearly 200 acres, includes a cottage used by inventor James Watt, the ruins of a medieval church, plus remnants of a Roman fortlet, once part of the Antonine Wall, now part of a World Heritage Site. The John Muir Way and a National Cycle Route also run through the estate.
The masterplan was drafted by Falkirk Community Trust – which manages the estate for Falkirk Council - after consultation with the public, council officers and key stakeholders, including Bo’ness Community Council, The Friends of Kinneil charity and Historic Scotland
The plan outlines key proposals and ideas which could come to light over the next ten years, including:
- relocating Kinneil Museum to the more imposing setting of Kinneil House, as part of a larger restoration plan within the House;
- improving Kinneil Woods and setting up mountain bike trails;
- developing new opportunities for play and exercise;
- improving natural habitats; and
- improving interpretation, signage, access and car parking – as well as links to the neighbouring Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway.
The plan also looks to potential improvements to help the operation of the annual Bo’ness Hill Climb at Kinneil – as well as the potential to offer camping and caravanning within the Estate.
Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s spokesman for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, said: “The plan echoes many ideas supported by different groups and organisations within the local community. Some of these won’t be achieved overnight. However, with the support of the plan, we can hopefully attract much-needed external funding to take some of these proposals forward. Kinneil Estate is an important site with huge potential.”
He added: “Since the plan was drafted last year, a few projects have already started – such as the critical work to crop some ageing parts of Kinneil Woods, as well as efforts to consolidate the ruins Kinneil Church, which have been vandalised in recent years. These have been supported through a range of funders, including the Heritage Lottery-funded Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.”
A report by Falkirk Council’s Director of Development Services Rhona Geisler said: “While promoting the strategic conservation of key aspects of the estate, the masterplan also highlights the need for change and transformation. The starting point has been that the site does not presently optimise its location and does not fully reflect the changing role of parks for local people and visitors alike.
“Part of the intended transformation is to include a series of innovative and well marketed visitor experiences and informed and inspired re-interpretation of the estate’s unique heritage.”
The new masterplan was endorsed by councillors as the Community Trust prepared to re-launch Kinneil Museum after a refurbishment project also funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The museum is set to re-open this weekend, to tie in with an open morning at Kinneil House on Saturday, March 21.
To find out more about Kinneil and other local parks, visit www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/parks/ or visit The Friends of Kinneil’s website at www.kinneil.org.uk