9th March 2012
Local MSP and Cabinet Secretary, John Swinney, has cut the first turf at the site of a new £500,000 information and education centre in Blair Atholl.
It heralds the start of major refurbishment of the existing ranger base in the centre of the village and will provide visitors with everything they need to get the best experience in Atholl and the Cairngorms National Park.
The courtyard setting of the ranger base, the Atholl Country Life Museum and cafe will be transformed:
The old tin clad, vernacular, school refectory building where the rangers are based will be restored, insulated and be heated by woodfuel. It will be the main information hub and education centre.
The centre has the potential to reach over 100,000 visitors every year and will be managed by Atholl Estates in partnership with BAATA.
John Swinney MSP said: “This is an excellent achievement for Blair Atholl Area Tourist Association and Blair Charitable Trust. A substantial investment, this will transform a key building in the centre of the village to provide a first class experience for visitors to the area. This project recognises both the innovative way in which such proposals need to be funded, and the tangible benefits a resource like this will bring to the area.”
David Green, CNPA Convener, said: “This is a special place, a conservation area, added to the Cairngorms National Park just over a year ago and we’re delighted in that time to have been able to help make this happen. I know it’s been an aspiration of the community for some time to have a visitor service that can really excite people about the village and surrounding area. As a gateway to the National Park, this centre will help the 100,000 plus people who come through every year have a great experience, learn, explore and keep coming back to see everything the Park has to offer.”
Perth & Kinross Council Leader, Councillor Ian Miller, said: “I am extremely pleased that through this partnership, work is getting underway to transform this building into a focal point for visitors to Blair Atholl and the Cairngorms National Park. The development of the new information and education centre, and the potential for business opportunities, will I am sure make a big difference for the local community and the Highland Perthshire economy.”
The project involves a number of partners: Blair Atholl Area Tourist Association, Blair Charitable Trust and Atholl Estates, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Perth & Kinross Council with Historic Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government.
There is also potential for further development from the private sector with planning permission for three commercial units on land adjacent to the hub.