Preparatory works commence at Dean Park

Site investigations have commenced at Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock, in preparation for a multi-million pound redevelopment programme for the park which will create a 5 star visitor attraction for East Ayrshire.

Soil samples from a number of locations around the park will be extracted by drilling exploratory holes in the ground to assess the condition and suitability of the ground in relation to the proposed developments.

The proposals, which are still subject to planning approval, include a new rural life centre at the farm, a new and improved playpark, better animal enclosures and wildlife features, picnic areas, an orchard and enhanced landscaping.

The proposals for the visitor centre will extend and upgrade both the retail and interpretation facilities. The cafe will be moved into a new conservatory at the front of the building, while an extension to the rear will create an education centre, which will include space for workshops and residential accommodation for schools, volunteers and community groups.

The path network within the park will be extended to include paths for all abilities, cycle routes and a designated bridle route. Two new bridges will be installed across the Craufurdland Water to provide access to the more remote areas of the park.

The grounds will be further improved to encourage and retain local wildlife. The Edwardian landscape associated with the De Walden family will be fully restored, including the Lady Howard De Walden’s Pinetum and the graveyard.

Andrew Kennedy, Head of Facilities and Property Management said: “The proposals for the park are ambitious and exciting and these drilling works are essential in terms of ensuring that we understand the ground conditions.

“The drilling works are due to commence the week beginning 14 March and there should be minimal disruption for visitors to the park during this time.”

The £4.7m redevelopment of Dean Castle Country Park has attracted £3.34m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £600k from the East Ayrshire Renewable Energy Fund.

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