A SUPPORTERS’ group set up to fight for the future of Geilston Garden in Cardross has cautiously welcomed the decision by its owners to keep it open for at least one more year.

But the Friends of Geilston say they have “reservations” over how far National Trust for Scotland (NTS) plans for ‘enabling’ development in the surrounding grounds will address the Trust’s financial worries.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) announced last week that it will defer a decision on Geilston’s long-term future for another 12 months – but warned that losses at the attraction had increased from around £90,000 to more than £111,000 in the last financial year.

The Friends of Geilston met NTS representatives following last week’s announcement.

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The Friends said in a statement: “We welcomed the decision to keep the garden open for at least another year pending review of the potential of enabling development to generate funds to keep Geilston open in the longer term. However, we did express our disappointment that the board did not reverse its 2016 decision to close Geilston. Thus, uncertainty continues to hang over the longer-term future of the Garden.

“We appreciate that the trustees are looking to find a way which addresses their financial concerns but keeps the garden open.

“The Friends have reservations over how far enabling development will resolve these issues, but the Trust will be exploring additional fund raising as part of an overall package.

“The NTS proposes to focus on potential development of the land around the house to generate investment for its restoration so that it can be rented out or sold. This will provide funds to keep the garden open.

“However, this strategy raises several issues.

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“Any development must be appropriate to the site and maintain the integrity and accessibility of the garden.

“There will obviously be requirements for planning consent. The local community must be consulted to ensure its support. The capacity of any development to generate sufficient funds is uncertain.

“These points did seem to be appreciated by the trust.

“Geilston has demonstrated its potential as a visitor attraction with events such as Apple Day. Visitor numbers this season increased by 2,000 to reach 13,700. This compares favourably with similar gardens within the NTS portfolio.

“We look forward to the programme of events for next season and encourage people to support the garden by coming along.

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“The Friends will continue to work with the NTS to identify sustainable development for Geilston.”

Reacting to the Friends’ statement, an NTS spokesman said: “We appreciate the Friends’ offer to work with the Trust as we find a viable way forward for Geilston Garden.

“They, as we, are going in with their eyes open to the challenges of doing this, as well as the constraints that the Trust works within, and we will welcome their further input.”

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