Dec 21 2012 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
A multi-million pound revamp is being lined up for Dean Castle Country Park.
Lottery bosses have confirmed their support for a £3.1million funding package which would transform the Kilmarnock attraction.
The plans outline the creation of a new outdoor theatre, a restored laundry house turned into enterprise units and a new bridge.
The formal gardens would also be restored along with a new path and visitor centre.
The Heritage Lottery Fund’s initial backing for the scheme is being announced today and has been welcomed as the perfect Christmas gift to the town.
Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The park is a wonderful legacy from our ancestors which is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people.
“A beautiful space in which to relax away from the pressures of daily life, this project will encourage even more people through its gates and forge new links with the community.”
Council leader Douglas Reid said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the countryside services team and the local community, Dean Castle Country Park has already seen major improvements in the last two years, making it one of South West Scotland’s premier visitor attractions.
“The initial support from Heritage Lottery Fund will provide us with an opportunity to develop a unique venue that will promote rural life, the environment and leisure and will contribute significantly to the regeneration of the region.”
The former estate, which dates back to the late 12th or early 13th century, has a 14th century castle as its focal point and includes 30 hectares of Ancient Woodland.
The announcement from the Heritage Lottery states: “The project plans to rejuvenate both the built and natural heritage of the park.
“A new civic space will be created for outdoor theatre, music and crafts; the laundry houses will be restored to use as workshops and enterprise units: the designed landscape of the formal gardens will be restored; and a new bridge, 6km path and visitor centre created.”
The initial decision means the bid passes the first round of the applications process and that the lottery “believe it has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value” for funding.
The project now has up to two years to submit fully-developed proposals to compete for a cash award.