THE SUB-GROUP of Strathaven and Glassford Community Council (SGCC) met with representatives of South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) on March 10th for an update on progress with work on Strathaven Castle.
SGCC has been in discussions with SLC about the condition of the castle since 2019, and reached agreement in early 2020 that funding would be set aside for repairs to the castle and installation of a fence. It was also agreed at that time that after repair work was completed further public consultation would take place on further plans for developing the castle grounds as a visitor attraction.
It was confirmed that Scheduled Monument Consent has been given for the construction of a fence around Strathaven Castle from the entrance to Castle Park round to and up the steps leading to the castle itself, with a gate at the bottom of the steps. Planning approval has also been given for the work to proceed.
A tender is due to be issued w/e March 17th for the construction of the fencing, repairs to the boundary wall and repairs to the boardwalk in Castle Park.
There will be a four week deadline for returns of tenders followed by a six week assessment, award and mobilisation period, with work expected to start in May. There is a 4-6 week construction period, depending on what is discovered once the ground is broken. The work will include the installation on foundations for two information boards and ducting for cables for future lighting of the castle. SGCC to identify locations for the information boards.
A meeting has been held between an SLC architect and an accredited conservation structural engineer about the development of a report highlighting what work is now required, following a three year gap since the last survey. This will involve a full height assessment of the condition of the castle and may also involve producing drone footage of the top of the castle structure.
March/April is the expected completion date of this report.
The budget currently set aside is £65,000. This will be assessed following the production of the report to identify shortfalls, depending on the scale of urgent and essential work identified. The report will identify essential and immediate repairs and highlight further work that could be undertaken over a further 3-12 month schedule. There will be discussions internal to SLC about funding requirements.
SLC agreed that SGCC would be the group with which it has formal discussions and is happy that SGCC liaises with Friends of Strathaven Castle (FoSC) on further consultation of options for any future proposals for the castle site. SLC confirmed that Scheduled Monument Consent would be required for any work that disturbs the grounds of the castle.
Once the fence is erected and repair work completed to the boundary walls and the boardwalk, access will be restored to Castle Park. There will be no access to the castle itself until the essential repair work is completed, due to safety concerns about the current condition of the stonework. It is intended that full access will be restored once the repair work is completed.
Historic Environment Scotland may be in a position to provide match funding for community groups to undertake projects based on community consultation. SLC agreed to pass the contact for those discussions to SGCC.
There are no current timescales on the start of repair work on the stonework, as it requires the report to be produced first. That will set out the scale of essential repairs and enable production of a tender for the work to be carried out. Depending on the scale of the work required, tenders may be required from specialist teams and for that reason no timescales are currently available.
SLC agreed to keep in regular contact with SGCC on developments
and plans and is happy for SGCC to advise FoSC on updates and to liaise with SLC on behalf of the community through it working closely with FoSC.
The Friends of Strathaven Castle set up only a few short weeks ago has, of writing, reached an online membership of 725 with more than 10 people stepping forward to form a committee.
Jan Dawson, acknowledged that the information and access that FoSC has obtained was in no small way helped along by the continuing support of all members of the Facebook Group. FoSC can be found and contacted by joining the Friends of Strathaven Castle Facebook Group.
Another founder member Dylan Hampshire said “part of the problem in the past was the lack of firm information about the Castle but that is in the past.” Jan added “We look forward to liaising with Strathavenand Glassford Community Council in the future and in getting an actual timeline for repairs.”
Information received about the Castle and the Groups aspirations can be found online in the groups Facebook Files and on their website when launched. FoSC plan to host an online Castle Conference with a guest panel that will include the Friends of Dundonald Castle and the Friends of Stonehouse Park who will share their experience in creating these Community Organisations. Details to be announced.
A spokesperson for SGCC said: “We are delighted that after lengthy discussions between the Community Council and SLC that we now have dates for the installation of the fence and plans in place for the repair work on the Castle. These plans were initially developed in early 2020 but were subsequently held up by the global pandemic and planning issues with the initial application. We are delighted to be working with FoSC to take forward proposals for further development now that discussion between SGCC and SLC have reached this positive stage.”