- SEAchange is a community group with all the members living locally. We are in north east Scotland, on the coast twenty miles north of Aberdeen.
- The group was started at a well-advertised and well-attended event in Nov 2017.
- There was creative discussion that evening, and many ideas and suggestions were written on post-it notes.
- 14 people volunteered to meet further, to work on the ideas expressed. The group has been meeting regularly since then and has developed the SEAchange project to meet the needs and aspirations expressed by the community. Some people have moved away, and others have joined the group.
- Consulting the community during the next two years, we received ideas in email suggestions following community newsletter articles, through an online survey with comments in July 2018, a gala day stall, and an open coffee afternoon held in October 2018.
- At first an informal community group, we adopted an interim constitution during 2018, and became a SCIO on 4th April 2019 SEAchange – Slains Environmental Action for change SCIO – Charity number SC049195. Our officially defined geographical base is the area represented by the Slains and Collieston Community Council.
- In November 2019 we sent an 8 page booklet to all 252 households in the community council area, with an update on the research done, and outlining the shape of the project following all the community input.
- This included an invitation to an Open Day on 16th November 2019, where everyone could ask questions, look at plans and discuss with the trustees. This was well attended, by about 80 people during the day, most of whom came for short presentations in the morning or the afternoon.
- Slains School and SEAchange have worked jointly so the children could suggest a name for the café, designs for a children’s corner, and for a woodland play area. We’ve agreed to continue working together.
- We’re in conversation with the Forvie Centre at the Forvie National Nature Reserve, run by Scottish Natural Heritage.
- We’ve consulted members of other groups in our community – eg the Slains and Collieston Community Council, Collieston Offshore Rowing Club, the Collieston Development Group, the Collieston Harbour Heritage Group, and Collieston Action for Teens.
- All the comments received have been thoughtful and constructive. Some people voiced concerns as to whether the concept was viable, or a liability – a very important question. During 2019 grant funding has enabled research through:
- RICS valuation by Allied Surveyors
- Independent feasibility study by Blue Nimbus consultancy
- A condition report by Squire Associates with expert roof inspection.
- Timber specialist survey of the building.
- Architectural sketch designs by Stephen Brown ARIAS
- Structural engineer’s survey by Ramsay&Chalmers
- Costing by quantity surveyor George Beedie of Beedie Mitchell
- Three days of help from Just Enterprise to review our business plan
- An independent community ballot conducted by Helen Barton of Highland Community Resources
The feasibility study and business plan have shown that the proposals will be an asset for the community.
We would like to express many thanks to the Formartine Area Committee and to the Architectural Heritage Fund for their help with funding the above research, and also for funding to enable the independent community ballot – with our thanks also to Just Enterprise for their help.
Consulting with the community we have endeavoured to shape the project in response to the ideas suggested, and the options favoured by the majority of those who contributed. Through this process the project has been refined into its present form.
In Nov-Dec 2019 an independent community ballot was held. Of 187 votes cast 74% supported the centre and café in the kirk building and 75% also supported the woodland area.
In November 2020 The Scottish Land Fund awarded us grant funding to purchase the Slains Kirk building and also nearby land for community woodland. We are hugely grateful for this vital help in taking the SEAchange project forward, and are currently working on all the practical details involved in the process of purchasing both land and building.
Throughout the development of the project the trustees have met at least monthly, and sometimes more often – meetings which are open to anyone in the community. We hope additional trustees, new members and the presently increasing number of volunteers will bring new energy and skills to SEAchange in the months ahead.