A new local safe, sensory garden will bring much-needed communal green space to a corner of South Lanarkshire thanks to a major grant from the Banks Renewables Kype Muir Wind Farm community fund.
The Hope Hub, a multi-use community hub in Kirkmuirhill that serves the communities of Blackwood and nearby Clydesdale villages submitted a bid for funding to deliver an ambitious new community outdoor space.
Applications for funding are determined by the Kype Muir Community Panel (KMCP), a group that consists of community councils local to the Kype Muir Wind Farm and its developers, Banks Renewables.
The Hope Hub has now been awarded £12,500 and – as soon as restrictions allow – will set to work creating a large polytunnel, raised beds, pathways, plant saplings, as well as installing benches and fencing plus purchasing tools and supplies.
Trevor Hadley, who is leading on project management for the Hope Hub and who typically hosts the gardening club at the centre, is a former garden centre manager with experience teaching at horticultural colleges.
Willie Moyes, a volunteer with The Hope Hub who leads on fundraising efforts, believes a great number of people in the surrounding area will feel the benefit of their project, which he hopes will open in earnest in June this year.
He said: “We’re doing everything we can to create a space that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible in the community. This funding enables us to do so much.
“Raised beds and level pathways will make for easy access and there will be plenty to feel and smell for those that struggle with their sight. It’ll be a very quiet space too, so will be appealing to groups of all ages, from pre-school to the elderly.
“We hope that our polytunnels can be very productive too, and in time, help produce plants for the surrounding villages.”
The Kype Muir Community Fund sees £138,000 awarded annually to groups within 10 kilometres of the 26-turbine development. Funding started in April 2019 when the wind farm started to produce green energy.
George Smith, who chairs the KMCP, said: “The KMCP has been working closely with community councils local to Kype Muir Wind Farm to support projects that are important to each respective community.
“It is vital that KMCP supports communities like Kirkmuirhill as they don’t have a designated community council, which can make it difficult to secure funding for community initiatives.”
Banks Renewables is committed to ensuring that the communities in the surrounding area benefit most from the wind farm. Its Connect2Renewables partnership with South Lanarkshire Communities is a broad pledge that also saw it commit to using local contractors throughout the construction of Kype Muir.
The Community Fund accounts for around a quarter of annual funding arising from the wind farm. Around half goes towards as establishing an employability and training fund, distributed by the local authority, with a further quarter also distributed by the council as part of the wider Renewable Energy Fund (REF).
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager with the Hamilton-based Banks Group said: “The value placed on having a healthy community and attractive, engaging outdoor spaces has arguably never been higher.
“We’re thrilled to work in partnership with the Kype Muir Community Panel, to support groups like The Hope Hub to provide vital funding to deliver a project with the potential to improve so many lives.”
The Hope Hub was founded in 2014 when the Hope Church (Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill) was established – with around 130 members meeting weekly, temporarily at the community wing of Blackwood Primary School.
In 2016 it acquired its current premises, the former Blackwood Care Home, owning the large building and grounds which it is transforming into a multi-use community hub facility.
The charity exists to advance citizenship, support community wellbeing and the relief of poverty – and to encourage all statutory, third sector, community groups and members of the rural communities to use the new facility.
Banks Renewables is committed to ensuring that their projects deliver tangible and lasting social, economic and environmental benefits to the communities in which it has developments.