Place Of Origin Woodland, Ownership and Maintenance

The following information is merely an opinion of matters and should not be relied upon as unequivocally accurate and as such no responsibility is accepted for any information or documents appearing on this website.  Only Aberdeenshire Council can provide definitive information.  The purpose of this page is to provide some background information regarding ownership of the site and obligations of the lessee.


Breedon Aggregates Ltd. own the Place Of Origin, shown shaded pink on the above plan.  In 2010, substantial maintenance work was carried out by BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers), a volunteer conservation group, who do environmental projects at a charge of, £250 per day. This work was organised and paid for Aggregate Industries who were owners of Kemnay Quarry at the time.

Aberdeenshire Council own the community woodland (shaded green on the above plan), adjacent to Place Of Origin (POO).  Aberdeenshire Council, as Landlords, leased the site to The Greenbelt Group as tenants commencing on 29 June 2001 and lasting for 99 years in return for the payment of the nominal rental sum of £1 per annum.

The lease exists over “the Subjects”, as these are described in clause 1.1 of the lease and outlined in red [not visible in the black and white copy supplied] on the “Title Plan”, shown below (click to enlarge):

Greenbelt Contract Map

The lease extends to some twenty pages and it is extremely difficult for a lay person to interpret and provide an informed opinion.  However, a copy of the lease was supplied to a suitably qualified Lawyer for an opinion without liability or prejudice.

Over the years the question of maintenance of paths etc. has been questioned and it was initially assumed that the tenants Greenbelt Group were responsible but it is far from clear under the terms of the lease.  However, a recent inquiry to Aberdeenshire Council Area Manager (Garioch), produced this reply from the Area Estates Surveyor (Garioch) on 25 October 2016:

I refer to the above Community Woodland and confirm that a lease was entered into between Aberdeenshire Council as Landlords and The Greenbelt Group of Companies Limited as Tenants for a 99 year term to 21 June 2100.

 Clause 3.3 of the lease reads as follows “The Tenants shall accept the Subjects as fit for the purpose of the Permitted Use and, the Tenants will at their own cost and expense throughout the duration of this Lease maintain and manage the same for the purposes of the Permitted Use in the terms of the Management Operations in accordance with the generally accepted principles from time to time prevailing of sound silvicultural practice save to the extent that it is no longer appropriate so to maintain or manage same due to any change in the Permitted Use authorised pursuant to Clause 3.6 of this Lease”.

I recommend the Council contacts The Greenbelt Group of Companies Limited and indicates to them that in terms of the lease they are required to maintain the leased subjects at their cost and expense for the purposes of the Permitted Use for the duration of the lease.

Permitted Use

The site was opened by the Duke of Kent in 2006, shown below two aerial plans of the woodland.  The left hand plan shows the original path layout indicating the path layout in 2007.  The plan on the right shows the paths as they exist in 2017, the paths coloured red are new paths largely overgrown and barely passable; note that the circular amenity,  communal picnic area lower left has disappeared into undergrowth, the circular path has been replaced with indiscriminate paths based on what once existed.

Photos showing the width of the original paths and some of the stone features are shown below:

Some photos of the paths as they exist in 2017 are shown below and more are available here

Some historical information regarding the path design, width and layout can be found on Chris Fremantle’s website and reads as follows:

In the recent film (Tom Maine 2006-07) there is a fascinating discussion between the artists about making the paths across the community woodland, which reinforces this point. The Greenbelt Company had employed a landscape architect to set out the site. Graciously they allowed the artists to set aside that design and implement their own. Although many drawings were done, as well as contour models of the site, in the end the artists went out with the JCB and cut the path network intuitively based on their walking the site in front of the JCB, and their understanding of the contours and desire lines. Some weeks later Maine flew into or out of Dyce Airport over the site and was able to take a photo through the window of the plane. The artists were startled by the image they had created with these paths. In the discussion they describe how the results of their own intuitive work on the ground amazed them when seen from the air. Within the paths they had formed two circles and connecting lines which clearly resemble the sort of symbols used by Picts to represent mirrors. As they comment to each other, they would never have planned or drawn a path network with such an image: it would have seemed too obvious and literal, but to find it emerging out of their walking the landscape clearly thrills and amazes them.

There can be little doubt that the intention of the Artists was that the community woodland paths and the two circular open amenity areas were to be retained and maintained and not allowed to become overgrown.  The area where the benches have been sited with stone retaining wall backdrop is now very shabby and the other circular amenity / picnic area on the left has disappeared altogether.

It is clear that the intended Permitted use has been eroded due to lack of care and maintenance, specifically stone features having disappeared or become overgrown, paths have become overgrown or at best narrowed to single muddy tracks and the circular Pictish style amenity areas neglected to the point that one has disappeared altogether.

Aberdeenshire Council, as owners of this ground have regrettably failed in their duty of care for a work of art for which they were trusted as responsible custodians.  Greenbelt, who own the lease, are responsible for the maintenance of the area and it is clear that the area has not been maintained to the intended standard of use.

It took 10 years to create the project and regrettably a further 10 years to allow it to deteriorate.