AN official of the Stonehaven Town Partnership has predicted a bright tourism future for the town, once the Caravan Club takes over the running of the Queen Elizabeth Caravan Park.
Frank Budd, chair of the Caravan Park Sub-committee, who is also chair of the Business Association Tourism Sub-group, can see nothing but good times ahead when the national body takes over at the helm.
Mr Budd said: “When the council said in February last year that they wanted to stop running the caravan park, it caused a bit of a flap. It could have been sold off if no one took up the option of running it.
“The council preference was for a volunteer group to take over and the STP was the only group to step forward.
“Things took a turn for the better when tourism expert Elma McMenemy spoke to the Caravan Club and now they have agreed to take the site over.
“We see this as a fantastic opportunity. They are to invest £1.7 million and will totally transform the infrastructure, including an all-weather pitch.
“The Caravan Club bring with them 380,000 members and a fantastic marketing organisation.
“They took over a site at Forfar two years ago and bookings soared and I am sure the same thing will happen at Stonehaven.
“Stonehaven is in a stunning situation and I am sure the site will be packed bringing a lot of business to Stonehaven.”
Aberdeenshire Council still own the site, although they have given it to the STP on a long lease and they will do the same for the Caravan Club.
“The STP are running the site this year. We have employed an excellent warden and assistant warden, but from October, the Caravan Club are due to take over and start the transformation of the park.
“They will demolish the old buildings and create a state of the art ‘green’ facility. We will be the most up to date site in Scotland.
“The Caravan Club are the creme de la creme. They are the country’s premier caravan organisation and a not for profit body.
“People do not have to be club members to use the site and I think we will be choc a bloc next summer.”
Stonehaven is to receive an annual sum of money from the Caravan Club. This figure will start at £6,500 and will rise according to turnover.
The STP plan to set up an independent committee, drawn from the community, to decide how the money is spent. There will be no shortage of projects, with the beach toilets, the Town House and the Tolbooth all candidates for support.
“The STP picked up the pieces at the caravan park and now we are moving forward with a good solid structure.”
Mr Budd says the Caravan Club’s planning application went in three or four weeks ago, with the full backing of the Community Council behind it.
He says the applicants have carried out a survey of the drainage which has been passed to SEPA for their comments and it is his hope that there will be no major hurdles.
The STP hope that the Caravan Club will open the site from March to October to maximise the revenue coming in to the town.
“It has been predicted that £200,000 worth of business could come into the town and it could be significantly more than that. The site has 80 pitches and it is predicted that each caravan will spend £53 per night on things like food. There is a big opportunity for someone to meet this need.
“The Caravan Club do all their own marketing and we feel that Stonehaven, with its stunning setting and its close proximity to Aberdeen, could fast become one of their jewels in the crown.”
Mr Budd confimed that the Caravan Club are prepared to allow eight static caravans on the site and forms will go out shortly to the 18/19 current static owners asking them to express an interest in staying.
“It is difficult to see why anyone would object to the granting of planning permission. It is still a caravan park and will be a vast improvement on what is there.
“The club have already made changes after talks with planning officers and after a public meeting. They want the best possible plan to go forward.”