Thank you to everyone who took the opportunity to provide feedback about the proposed Thistle art sculpture for the Gynack gardens. The results of the survey are available to download below. We are delighted that 158 people engaged with the process and completed the survey.
This is an important part of the process and we are very keen to continue to consult and seek the views of members of the Kingussie community..
Generally, there was strong support for a new art installation in the gardens, many had views on different types of art or amendments to the proposal and the biggest portion (40%) fully supporting the indicative design for the sculpture. That said a significant minority felt the space should be left empty for other uses.
Art projects, by their very nature, create debate, discussion and can be contentious. That is why we are keen to create something that can cause people to stop, think and discuss.
Some common and important questions were raised as part of the consultation process, we have tried to answer some of these below.
Given the level of support KCDC will continue with the current planning application for an indicative design. Recognising the great debate and some of the concerns we will then pause any further development on the design until circumstances allow a face-to-face community consultation to allow real, interactive, discussion to consider a final design that is fitting and special to Kingussie.
It will also be essential to get the support of the landowner: Highland Council.
Thank you once again for your feedback.
1. How indicative is the current design and what is opportunity to develop it further
The indicative design is the starting point that is required to gain planning permission. The theme, size and materials used will be as we have seen, but how the final artwork will look is still a long way off. The feedback tells us that people care and want a sculpture that is special to Kingussie and KCDC agrees with this entirely, indeed so does the sculptor.
We have already proposed the idea of integrating camans into the piece, we can do a lot more than this and take on ideas drawn from further consultation and discussion as part of the finished work. KCDC have committed to pause the project development on the design until circumstances allow a face-to-face community consultation to discuss how the final design will be fitting and special to Kingussie.
2. What is the process once we have planning permission?
Following planning permission we will need to obtain permission from Highland Council as they own the gardens. Once we have been able to have a face to face consultation we will work with the artist to develop the design whilst we begin to raise the funds for the project. It will probably take a year or more to raise the funds and commission the artist and then another 12 months from commissioning to completion.
3. Is a thistle a good way to represent Kingussie?
We believe that the artwork has to be more than just a thistle. It has to be special to Kingussie. One aspect is Shinty, but there will be other opportunities to make it special to the town. It will also be made of recycled metal. It is important to consider this from a visitor’s perspective and the value it can add to the local economy.
4. Could the same money be spent on something else (like play park etc)
No, there is no money for the sculpture project at the moment. The estimated cost will be around £24,000. We cannot raise this money without planning permission in place. We have been pledged £5,000 from the Sustrans art fund. The funds used to develop the garden came indirectly from the Scottish Government via The Highland Council Town Centre Fund and from a fund which is designated for active travel. This money is not available for other projects such as swing parks. It would be allocated to other towns and villages if we had not applied for it.
KCDC generates funds from the Hydro scheme and this is made available to the community to apply for projects. KCDC normally distributes up to £8,000 a year and many community groups and projects in Kingussie have already benefited. The application process can be found at Hydro Fund Application.
5. Why is the site of the sculpture on the new multi use plaza space?
The new Plaza space is approximately 40m long by 8m. This provides over 300 sq. meters of hard event space envisaged to be used for pop up events, farmers markets etc. These can easily be expanded into the wider gardens some 4000 sq. meters of space. The proposed artwork will take up 5 sq meters directly with plenty of space around it. Therefore we believe there is scope for both: to optimise the flexible space and a public artwork. The actual position of the sculpture circle lies behind the main plaza flexible space, but close enough to the front of the gardens to make an impact and be seen by those going past on the road. It is deliberately some distance away from the War Memorial. Finally this part of the plaza area has been reinforced to provide the foundations for an artwork
6. Do we need a fence at the front of the Park?
Four people asked whether the fence at the north end of the Park was to be replaced. The new transformed garden plan was developed to make better use of our green space in the town and encourage people to cycle and walk more including an open and attractive way for primary school children to walk to school rather than along the very narrow pavements down each side of the park. It provides new good surfaced paths that can be used by balance bikes or wheelchairs and we have deliberately reduced the number of physical barriers. Nevertheless the High street is a trunk road and as a further part of the town development we are working on traffic calming and lower speed limits at this part of the town. We will be consulting with the community shortly on this.
7. Why a sculpture at all?
Promoting Kingussie has been a key driver for the development of the gardens. Providing a focal point and ‘instagram’ spot where visitors can take photographs is seen as essential to advertise Kingussie as widely as possible even across the world.
8. What other projects are in the pipeline and will the community get a chance to influence these.
This is one of three projects that has been part funded by SUSTRANS. The other two are the Spey street, Ruthven road junction which is about to go for planning permission. The final Sustrans project is continuing a safe cycle route from Newtonmore all the way to the Gynack Gardens. This is still at the design stage, but we will shortly be consulting with the community on options.
9. Why has KCDC only proposed one design and not a wider suggested more options
From our initial research we concluded that there was not one outstanding theme that could represent Kingussie, apart from perhaps the “Wolf of Badenoch” but there are tentative plans for this sculpture outside Talla Nan Ross. One challenge with having several designs to consider is that it can lead to no clear first choice and ultimately compromise. Therefore, we decided to propose a theme that we believe could deliver for the town and then ask the community whether they would like it or not. Comments made about other ideas, in the survey and on social media have been wide and varied but with no strong popular alternative theme to the Thistle.
10. Did the Community Council support the Thistle concept and why is there a suggestion of controversy?
Yes, at the KVCC meeting in November 2020 the majority of the community council voted to support the indicative design. This was similar feedback from the Kingussie Business Forum. KCDC then requested that KVCC process the planning application to benefit from reduced fees. There was no other advantage to this action. This was agreed, but later it transpired there was a breach of protocol so the application had to be withdrawn and resubmitted by KCDC. KCDC were very grateful for the support from KVCC. KCDC has always had a strong and mutually supportive relationship with KVCC.