06 July 2021
The first of a series of visitor improvements on St Cyrus National Nature Reserve was officially opened this week (5 July) by Mairi Gougeon, MSP for Angus North and Mearns, and Jenny Miller, the Chief Executive of PAMIS and co-chair of the UK changing places toilets consortium.
This first stage of work, an inclusive and accessible toilet block, is part of a larger project to make the nature reserve more welcoming to all. The work was made possible with a Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund grant to Aberdeenshire Council.
The project includes three upgraded all-genders toilet cubicles and an enhanced, accessible toilet.
As well, the funding for the overall project, which also includes NatureScot and Coastal Communities contributions, will be used to improve the parking on the reserve. The car park will be enlarged with clearly marked bays to improve safety, flow, and the appearance of the car park within the reserve. The work will help accommodate vehicles which currently park along the roadside, as well as moving the circulation of coaches away from the visitor centre. Plans also include cycle parking, EV charging and chemical waste disposal for camper vans.
Angus North and Mearns MSP, Mairi Gougeon said:
“This is an important initiative that will enable more people to access the facilities they need when exploring our amazing outdoors and I want to thank Reserve Manager Therese, NatureScot and PAMIS for their work to make this project a reality.
“The team at St. Cyrus NNR are continually striving to improve the visitor experience, showcasing this incredible part of our coastline while protecting and enhancing its important biodiversity and wildlife. This toilet block is an important addition that means more people can now enjoy this special part of the region.”
Greig Cochrane, NatureScot’s property manager, added:
“This project reflects NatureScot’s commitment to being inclusive and welcoming everyone into the countryside. It’s been a tough project to run due to the constraints of working within the original footprint of the existing building, but it’s wonderful that the new facilities will now help everyone be able to access this stunning nature reserve.”
Jenny Miller, the Chief Executive of PAMIS, said:
“PAMIS is delighted to be here today and to see the opening of this changing places toilet. The team have been fantastic in seeking to include everyone and this addition will make the reserve a go to place for many of the families we support. COVID has been particularly difficult for this group and we are really excited that there is a beautiful accessible venue where families can come after many months of being isolated. A changing places toilet makes all the difference and allows them to experience this beautiful and interesting reserve.”
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “I am delighted that these accessible and inclusive toilets are able to open in time for the summer season, supported by RTIF funding – they will be a welcome addition and make a big difference to all our visitors. It is so important that we support these projects that aim to improve facilities for everyone which, in turn, improves the visitor experience, particularly at a time when the tourism and hospitality industry has experienced such a challenging and prolonged period of uncertainty. I look forward to seeing the improved car park early next year.
“Due to Covid-19, a new, homegrown audience is discovering and enjoying the hidden gems right on their doorsteps and improvement works like those taking place at St Cyrus are crucial to ensuring the infrastructure can keep up with demand for years to come.
“Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it.”
The project has taken many months of preparation by NatureScot staff. Therese Alampo, St Cyrus NNR Reserve Manager, added:
“We are indebted to Jenny Miller, the chief exec of Pamis, as she has been pivotal guiding us through creating the new accessible toilet; it’s the very first essential step in making the reserve and wider countryside more accessible.”
The enhanced accessible toilet is designed as closely to Changing Places’ standards as possible within the original footprint of the building. Changing Places are designed so they are completely accessible, providing enough space and equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently. This toilet has a hoist, changing table and space for carers.
NatureScot hopes to start works to improve the car park in late summer, after the majority of school holidays have ended, to avoid disruption during the busy summer months. Work is scheduled to be complete by early spring 2022.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to this increase in visitor numbers. It aims to reduce the impact of visitor numbers on local communities and facilities and create a more collaborative and sustainable approach to infrastructure provision and long-term maintenance of local facilities for the benefit of communities.
PAMIS is the only charity that solely supports children, young people (CYP) and adults with profound learning and multiple disabilities (PMLD) and their families to lead healthy, valued and included lives. PAMIS offers a range of projects and programmes including: Family support services; education and development; research and practice development; inclusive culture and leisure; campaigns; information sharing and an extensive library including the PAMIS multisensory stories; and resources to support technology enabled care. People with PMLD and their families face many barriers to accessing and participating in the community, and PAMIS works on a number of fronts to enable inclusion and improve their quality of life. PAMIS works closely with the Scottish Government on the development of policy and practice. This work includes representation on government committees, responding to consultation exercises, and campaigning on key issues. The organisation are the co-chairs to the UK Changing Places Toilet Consortium who advocate that there is at least one public toilet built to the Changing Places standard in every town centre with a population greater than 15,000 and within each new public building such as shopping centres, concert halls, railway stations, etc.
PAMIS were 2016 winners of the prestigious GSK and Kings fund IMPACT award recognised for excellence in Innovation, Management, Partnership working, Achievement, Community Focus, and Targeting Need.