Plans to make Ellon Castle gardens open to the public are gathering pace.
They have been welcomed by a local councillor, who believes the move to open up the area in and around the castle is long overdue.
Scotia Homes and Barratt Homes have set up a charity as part of the deal to develop Castle Meadows.
Ellon and District Councillor Gillian Owen said this week: “We should all get excited by the thought of these gardens which have been sealed off since they were completed in 1715 being opened to the public.
“After decades of neglect this ancient garden has become unsafe and overgrown. When they do open they will surely be the envy of the North-east.”
The new charity will be headed up by Dominic Fairlie, of Scotia Homes. who stressed the importance of the gardens to the town.
He said: “This is an invaluable asset for the community. The gardens are filled with history and any work that is undertaken will be sure to conserve that,”
Mr Fairlie pointed out that before the work could commence, it would require the permission of Historic Scotland as the the gardens are classified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
He added: “I am pleased that a number of of individuals in the community have agreed to oversee this multi-million pound conservation project which will be funded by planning gain money.”
Plans for the gardens include securing the old castle ruins and walls, fixing the fountain and sundial which were once centre pieces of the garden, tidying up the footpaths, steps and terraces, while replanting trees and shrubs.
Sandy McDougall, chairman of Ellon Community Council, is one of those who will help oversee the development.
He said:”I feel privileged to be involved, but would stress this is a project will take a number of years to complete, but once completed it will I am sure be well worth the wait.”
There is considerable interest in maintenance of the gardens, particularly as in the latter part of last century money was collected in the town, but never fully accounted for, according to a number of older residents, who are keen to know what happened to their cash.
One resident said: “I am thrilled to hear that a charity has been set up to oversee the development of the gardens.
“I would, however, like to know what happened the £5 I gave to the trust in 1988. I would like to think it will be used to ensure this marvellous development goes ahead.”