The Fife organisation behind the regeneration of Silverburn Park has signed a new 25-year lease, taking control of the park from Fife Council.
At a ceremony at the park last week, councillors, members of charity Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) and guests, discussed the progress that has been made at the park and watched as FEAT chair Brian Robertson and Provost Jim Leishman formally signed the lease agreement.
FEAT has helped bring the park back to its former glory since it moved in in 2014. The charity, which helps people with mental health issues get back into work, runs a number of projects out the park, and has developed ambitious plans for the buildings.
It is hoped a campsite will open at the park in April 2020, following a number of setbacks. The area, behind the flax mill, will have three eco pods, a shower block and a big green space for tents.
A cafe has also been set up, which helps generate income for the charity.
The park also hosts a lot of events, including the popular Silverburn Festival, which has continued to grow, year-on-year, since it started in 2015.
However, the biggest plan for the park is the regeneration of the flax mill. The building would be transformed into a visitor centre, with a cafe, restaurant, hostel and a historical display.
The charity has done a lot of work in the background, as the project is expected to cost in the region of £3 million.
It has secured a two-year development fund from the Heritage Lottery and is now in the process of finalising the plans and finding match funding, which will allow it to start work on the decrepit building.
“It’s a landmark event that we’ve been working towards all this time,” said FEAT general manager, Duncan Mitchell.
“It’s slightly scary, now that we’re fully responsible for it. We’re delighted to reach this point. The next two years are critical to the future of the whole park.”
The charity also received praise from local councillors.
“I used to bring my own children here,” said councillor and area convenor, Ken Caldwell.
“It fell away for a while, so it’s great to see it getting developed again. The work they’ve done has been brilliant. I’m looking forward to watching the park develop over the next few years.”
Cllr Colin Davidson added: “I think it’s fantastic. I’ve been coming here for 60 years.
“The opportunities presented with this particular project, for employment and volunteering, are massive. I’m pleased to see the work the team have done here.”
The charity has had to face a number of challenges during its time at the park, including major fires at Silverburn House, and unexpected problems with the site, such as flooding at the campsite.
However, it has overcome many of these, as Cllr Alistair Suttie highlighted.
“I think what FEAT have done is fantastic,” he told the Mail.
“Many of the people who volunteered have gone onto full employment. They’ve hard to work incredibly hard.”
The local councillor continued: “They’ve had to put up with fires, bombs – a lot of hurdles in their way, but they’ve come through.
“It’s going to be a fantastic attraction for Levenmouth.”