Banchory Men’s Shed is building on the growth of the Men’s Sheds movement across Scotland and elsewhere, prompted by the work done in Aberdeenshire and in Scotland’s first ever Men’s Shed in Westhill. Other Sheds have been or are now being set up in Aboyne, Alford, Braemar, Dyce, Ellon, Inverurie, Keith, Peterhead, Portlethen and Stonehaven.
Banchory Men’s Shed works together with the Banchory Legion Scotland, with the Legion both supporting and providing the premises area for the Shed and with the Shed providing extra benefits for the Legion membership:
- As well as providing the usual Men’s Shed facilities in Banchory there is the extra opportunity, support and encouragement for ex-servicemen and veterans based in and around Banchory to join the Shed as another aspect of re-integrating with civilian life
- The link-up also helps increase Men’s Shed membership which helps improve the Shed facilities and also aids its long-term stability
Banchory is the first Legion Scotland branch in the UK to participate in the Men’s Shed project and you can read about the origin of this link-up here.
At the date of this update our premises are not yet built and our meetings and activities are as given on the Where & When page, but our plans are now moving into the execution phase and are as follows:
Using space underneath the Banchory Legion annex building (which has become known as the Undercroft) the proposals are:
- Relocate the Legion’s Minibus from Garage Bay 1 to the adjacent double garage, in Bay 2.
- Convert Garage Bay 1 into the main Workshop area for woodwork and metalwork
- To fill in the undercroft open area to provide a recreation area for socialising, tea, coffee, cards, chess, computers, library, small-scale crafts, etc.
- The design will take account of the needs of those with reduced mobility.
The area of the Legion building concerned is shown below:
You can see full details of our plans as follows:
- We received Planning Permission for the necessary alterations in January 2016 – see the basic plans as approved here (opens pdf document).
- Full planning details can be found on the planning website – search here for “APP/2015/3501″ (sorry, the planning website does not allow direct linking).
- A full Building Warrant (BW/2016/0912) was approved in September 2016 which you can see here (opens large – 5.1 MB – pdf document)
Here’s a photo of Alan Pumfrey’s model (click photo for full size):
Many thanks to Gerry Robb Architectural Design Services for their help in drawing up these plans, shepherding them through the planning processes and continuing to support the Banchory Men’s Shed as we go forward.
As of July 2018 we are now progressing these plans well. To facilitate a staged funding and build process we will start by converting Garage Bay 1 to the Workshop (“Phase 1”) whilst retaining our social hub with the “upstairs” Legion (though we will try and make the workshop area flexible and also have social activities there). We will then continue with the Undercroft conversion into the main Social area (“Phase 2”) once funds are available.
A little bit of history
For the many folk who have kindly asked about our plans from time to time and anyone interested in some history, these plans are the culmination of a long process and have been hard-won. It may have appeared that very little has been going on for something over a year, but we can assure you that beneath the calm waters we have all been pedalling like mad.
Prior to the Legion plan the original option for the Banchory Men’s Shed was in other premises to the north of Banchory town centre, but the Legion link-up looked very promising and the plans as above were drawn up.
In April 2016 a high-level building cost estimate for these plans showed us that the likely cost was considerably higher than originally envisaged and we initially felt the sum was beyond our means. Even if we successfully managed to fund-raise this amount, it was nevertheless beholden on the Banchory Men’s Shed Trustees to ensure that whatever plans we adopted were in the best interests of the Shed and made best use of our Charity funds. We therefore started looking at alternative locations.
From June 2016 onwards we carried out a structured review of potential premises, land and buildings in and around Banchory – including existing buildings and land in both private and public (Council) possession. We considered a total of 10 options and drew up a short list. Late in 2016 we finally settled on a highly-favourable option based on suitable location, much lower cost demands than the original plans and very achievable facilities.
We then suffered a series of setbacks for both commercial and planning reasons and the selected option moved on rapidly through a number of alternatives. Ultimately, however, as we learned more about the full range of issues affecting the various options we decided in August 2017 to effectively go back to square one, re-evaluate all options again, including looking at any new ideas.
During this whole exercise we assessed a total of 22 options (existing premises, new builds, adaptations, land, temporary vs. permanent structures and the associated planning permissions etc.) It became clear there was no “low cost” solution in Banchory as the type of premises adopted by most other sheds (disused ex-Council properties) simply didn’t exist in Banchory, or where something might have been nominally available it was already earmarked or too long-term. The feasible alternatives (in certain cases, on more realistic costings than we had originally thought), all proved to be of a similar order of magnitude cost to the original Legion plans. The basic issue in Banchory was that it is a desirable place to live and to conduct business, and all land and buildings are at a premium.
Having a better view of the likely cost range, we also looked further at the funding situation, and found that this had changed complexion somewhat since our earlier days, with some very substantial grant sources now available. We also ran a member survey so that we could be sure of what the members were looking for in terms of activities, facilities and location.
This work all convinced us that the Legion plan is the best and it also gave us a greater degree of confidence in our ability to fund, build and sustain the Shed. The decision was agreed by the Board of Trustees in November 2017 and the intent is to start with converting Garage Bay 1 to the Workshop area and continue as funds permit to convert the undercroft. Funding will still be a challenge but we have more confidence now that it is achievable, and we are already getting the sense from the membership that this is a decision they can rally behind.
As a final note, the Board of Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have very generously and keenly helped us with this process, given advice, offered land and facilities and offered their services and support over an extended period. Our appreciation of all that help is sincere.
(updated 20th July 2018)