AGM Overview – 16/06/2022
The following is an overview of the topics of discussion that was had during the general meeting. The full minutes can be located in the member area. The aim of this blog is to document the story until the AGM in June which was the last public announcement. Then capture further updates since June in ‘Pt2.’ to give a year end update and what we see happening in 2023.
Site Planning & Development
There was significant development of the business plan for the Durris site, with the support of NEAT and Scottish Enterprise, resulted in an increased focus on phasing the development. Starting smaller in phase 1 and building from there. Phasing models identified with up to 5 phases, building from an initial approximately 30 hectare site with trails, parking, toilets and a few other facilities, then further development on that initial site would have allowed expanding out with increased trails and increased facilities.
With the initial 30 hectare site identified, work to design both the car park and the trails commenced. Slater Architecture progress car parking designs and CRC progressed trail design.
Over 3kms of trails was planned with green and blue flow type trails and a harder black/orange trail with a more natural feel. A new climbs would allow a return to the car park without using the public road. The green will drop half the height of the hill to allow for shorter laps for beginner/young riders. The layout has a strong focus on rider skill development with progression through the trail grades. However, the ‘easier’ flow trails will still be fun to ride for all abilities.
The car park includes spaces for up to 77 vehicles. There will be a covered shelter and open area for events, coaching etc. Two composting toilets were also included.
Initial trail and car parking layout allowed further site studies including drainage, transport, an updated ecological study and ground investigations. As things stand, the findings of these studies are being used to progress design and costing works.
At the time of the AGM, the committee were addressing some issues thrown up by the ground investigations carried out by CRC on site just prior to the AGM. A series of trail pits have thrown up issues with ground conditions and site drainage for the car park and the trails. Full implications were still to be understood and further information on these findings can be found ‘Pt 2’
Site Access & Community Asset Transfer (CATS)
The means for us to gain control of the site remains the same – Community Asset Transfer. Regular liaison has continued with Forest and Land Scotland on this aspect as they are the current managers and also administer the CATS process. It’s a stringent process that does demand quite a bit or time and effort. However, we were heartened to hear this year that the majority of applications are successful, although do take time (an example being Deeside Bike Collective in Banchory – congratulations to them!).
After a number of years of building up to this, we formally kicked off the process this year and requested a ‘joint valuation’ of the site where both parties (Gravitate and FLS) engage an independent valuer.
As things stand we are exploring how both lease and ownership of the initial site would be achieved.
Overall site funding, as described above we have had significant positive engagement with a number of bodies such as NEAT, Scottish Enterprise and others on funding the phase 1 development. No funding is confirmed but we are hopeful the further site planning and access progress from ourselves will open up opportunities.
We have an expression of interest in to the legacy fund (Sport Scotland’s Cycling Facilities Fund) associated with the 2023 Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.
We continue to explore other funds for both site development but also to aid trail adoption. We received Wind Farm and NEAT funding to purchase further trail tools for example.
Worth noting that TT2 secured £300k from SE thanks to their involvement with NEAT, and a further £350k from SportScotland.
In a hugely exciting development, our previously announced partnership with Aberdeenshire Trail Association resulted in permission from FLS to begin trail adoption and work days in Durris, particularly Durris 1.
5 dig days were held. One each in May, June, August, October, November with major work done on the ‘Durris 1’ trail primarily.
Work was halted in November as thinning works began in the forest. Unfortunately, some of the work carried out on Durris 1 was damaged.
Storms Arwen and then Corrie further impacted the forest and we have not had permission to carry out work on trails to date (This is still the case and for the foreseeable as writing this).
However, committee members have been assisting ATA and DMBins by surveying trails after both storm events and providing feedback on necessary works to clear and make safe.
Member & General Communication
Our primary communication through the year has been in relation to trail adoption. We recognise general communication from the project has become a weak spot. Clearly much is happening and we are all busy so it is an area we must improve on.
Trustee Retirals & Elections
Martin Byers and Jim McPahil have retired permanently from the position of Trustees.
Shaun Falcus was unanimously elected as a Trustee.