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Forres Features to invest £50,000 in Cluny Hill improvements

By Garry McCartney

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Forres Features have already installed five benches at Cluny Hill with 'Colours' profits.
Forres Features have already installed five benches at Cluny Hill with 'Colours' profits.

A COMMUNITY interest company is investing nearly £50,000 in a local beauty spot.

Forres Features, formed in 2016 by the organisers of light and music events Colours of Cluny in 2016 and 2017, have applied to Moray Council for Planning permission to improve pathways, instal soak-aways from South Street up to Nelson's Tower, erect a new information board, and re-instate log benches at the monument.

One of Forres Features' directors, Graham Murdoch, confirmed £30,000 has been allocated via the Landfill Communities Fund and a further £17,000 from Forres Features revenue.

He explained: "There has been no work carried out on Cluny Hill for years - it has been left to wild, paths have become badly eroded and trees have not been maintained. Nelson Tower had become totally obscured but since minor work was carried out to reveal it, there has been a substantial increase in the number of people visiting."

Tilhill Forestry are compiling a management plan for Cluny Hill, taking account of the silviculture (growth and quality control of timber) and the social needs of the local population.

Forres Features are committed to facilitating consultation for the public to voice opinion and provide Tilhill with as much information as possiblefor the management plan.

Mr Murdoch confirmed Tilhill already completed a successful survey and plan for Sanquhar pond.

He said: "We have obtained planning permission to carry out upgrading paths at Cluny Hill, some of which require soakaways which will require excavating some areas.

"This has brought about the need to have an Archeological Written Scheme of Investigation and an archaeologist will need to be present during the work."

He added: "There have been some planning issues with the path upgrades regarding materials and drainage channels to be used. LDN Architects had prepared our planning application, proposing natural stone edging to the drainage channels, which is more in keeping with the surroundings than steel channeling."

Tilhill Forestry senior forest manager David Hardie has been working with Forres Features. He had a stall in November at Forres Town Hall as part of Food Growing Strategy engagement day organised by Moray Council where he spoke to several people about the plans and received written comments and contact details from participants. He is planning a second engagement in the Tolbooth soon.

He said: "As an initial part of the process of producing the long term plan, we consult with stakeholders who have an interest in Cluny Hill to gather important information and different perspectives on what people would like to see happening there as part of ongoing management.

"The trick then is to try and balance the various interests and create a plan that satisfies most aspirations in a reasonable cost effective way.

"We have completed the initial scoping consultation with a view to producing the plan in 2020."

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