Estate, Kinneil House, Kinneil Museum

Councillors to consider Kinneil walled garden proposals

Councillors on Falkirk Council’s Executive Committee are due to consider future plans for Kinneil Estate’s walled garden at their next meeting on 19 October.

Following a second consultation on the subject this summer, Council officials are presenting the Executive with a proposed ‘masterplan’ for the walled garden.

One of two impressive new sets of bespoke gates by Ratho Byres Forge, installed earlier this year by Falkirk Council at the South entrance to Kinneil walled garden as part of their wall repairs

The document outlines £240,000 of infrastructure investment and alterations to put in place a new ‘spatial framework’ in three phases, concluding with demolition of a disused large existing glasshouse and provision of new toilets, wi-fi and other items. This is in addition to an estimated £297,500 already allocated for repairs to the old stone walls of the garden space.

It is stated that the plans offer a new ‘vision’ for the walled garden, yet also that they are ‘deliberately flexible, to allow for a range of uses, changing community requirements and available funding that may evolve over time’.

The plan does not specify what if anything will replace the large glasshouse, currently the main building in the northern section of the walled garden, which used to be the Council’s popular nursery for the provision of bedding plants across the Falkirk district. In a previous consultation at the end of 2019, the Council had invited views on bold suggestions such as a new visitor centre, café, and/or conference/training venue. The Friends of Kinneil had offered additional ideas for consideration such as a community function and/or wedding venue, an Antonine Wall education centre, or a youth hostel.

Other sections of the site are currently home to Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC, who have developed a strong and increasing reputation for their community growing activities, and innovative biochar initiative.

The proposals being put before Councillors can be read in full here: the paper also contains all the responses made to this summer’s consultation (including the detailed response submitted by the Friends of Kinneil), together with the reply from Council officers to the points made by consultees. For those interested, a copy of the response which the Friends of Kinneil made to a previous consultation at the end of 2019 is now also available here.

Commenting on the proposals, Ian Shearer, Chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “New investment in the historic Kinneil walled garden is welcome and necessary. However, it could improve the proposals to be clearer what people will ultimately get for this expenditure, and what the eventual vision actually looks like.

“This plan and this funding do not seem sufficiently integrated into any real strategic progress or investment on the existing 2015-25 masterplan for Kinneil House, Museum and Estate as a whole, nor into any distinctive vision for Bo’ness as a place and as a destination.

“2022 will be the Centenary of Kinneil becoming a public heritage asset and park. We are asking Councillors across parties, as the Estate’s modern owners and custodians, to celebrate the value to people – especially over recent times – of such outstanding assets. We hope that together with Historic Environment Scotland they will build on this positive step and commit to renewed, transformative impetus for the larger plan – identifying major funding sources for what Kinneil as a whole could and should be in the future, both as a much-loved place for the community, but also for its many visitors.”