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Tay Cities Deal: Funding accelerated to save three key projects in Angus

Volunteers taking part in tree planting at Hospitalfield House.
Volunteers taking part in tree planting at Hospitalfield House.

Funding for three major projects in Angus has been fast-tracked as the Tay Cities Deal has been signed off.

Angus Council was asked to approve dipping into their own funds at a meeting last week, which was unanimously agreed.

The Tay Cities Deal was signed in December 2020 —a full year later than originally hoped.

Concerns were raised that some projects were being put at risk as a result of the delay.

To mitigate that risk, Angus Council will now provide a “modest” investment to ensure the Montrose drone port, a Centre of Agri Tech and Sustainable Innovation and digital rural broadband rollout projects can begin.

Tay Cities Deal: Acceleration of Angus project funding could be agreed this week

Officers highlighted there was a risk the council could lose the money if final full business cases were rejected by the Scottish or UK governments.

However, this risk was assessed as low based on previous discussions with both governments.

Some £782,000 will be split between the three projects.

At a full council meeting last week, council leader David Fairweather said: “The hard work the team has put into this is really staring to show.

“The three we’re being asked to accelerate, they’re fantastic projects. They’re certainly a risk worth taking.”

Councillor Bill Duff said: “I think it’s a modest amount of money we’re being asked for here to accelerate these projects and I think we should endorse that.”

The projects

The three projects have been prepared under Angus Council’s umbrella Mercury Programme.

The local authority hopes to increase green energy in the county to “protect places for future generations”.

Many of the Tay Cities Deal projects in Angus have been agreed with this goal in mind.

One of the first identified to help achieve this was the Drone project in Montrose. It is hoped it could benefit offshore wind developments off the Angus coast.

The town was chosen due to its relatively quiet airspace.

Casi could see Angus become an “area of research excellence”, according to the report councillors will discuss this week.

It could see innovations in farming developed to help curb greenhouse gases associated with the agricultural sector. A headquarters for the operation is planned for Forfar.

The digital broadband scheme could help those living in rural Angus experience faster internet connection speeds, something that has blighted the region.

Hospitalfield House

The committee also discussed the status of other Tay Cities Deal projects in Angus at the meeting.

Among them was the planned transformation of Hospitalfield House, in Arbroath.

Hospitalfield Trust hopes to restore and enhance the residential, studio and visitor facilities there to create what it says will be a world-class cultural and tourism facility with a financially sustainable future.

The first phase of the opening, which will see the unveiling of a walled garden and cafe, is expected in May.

Arbroath councillor Lois Speed said: “I’m confident this investment will help ensure that Hospitalfield House is no longer a hidden treasure but one that shines brightly, attracting everyone locally, nationally and far beyond.

Councillor Lois Speed.

“I’m delighted by the environmental improvements that have been made to maximise accessibility creatively, incorporating inclusive design and adaptations within the existing architecture and landscape — some of which is listed.

“Hospitalfield hopes to become a real hub of activity that aspires to offer something for everyone, whether that be with the delivery of employment and learning opportunities, public events and entertainment or simply the enjoyment of peace and tranquillity of the gardens.”

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