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More than 1,000 people fight against bid to ‘divvy up’ Dundee’s Fairmuir Park

Objectors to the Fairmuir Park plans.
Objectors to the Fairmuir Park plans.

Ambitious plans for a café, pavilion and community hub at a popular Dundee park have infuriated neighbours, who fear their “precious green space” will be “divvied up”.

Two groups in the city want to transform parts of Fairmuir Park, including revamping the football pavilion and opening a café on the disused bowling green.

But worried locals fear this is just the beginning of development and soon there will be nothing left of their beloved park.

Those living near the park launched a petition to halt the projects – put forward by Dundee United Community Trust (DUCT) and Alexander Community Development (ACD).

They have already gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

Both projects propose asset transfers of parts of the park to expand and develop facilities for community use.

While locals welcome the groups’ desire to bring community facilities to the city, they say Fairmuir Park is the wrong location.

DUCT wants to refurbish the football pavilion, eventually turning it into a base for its charity work, while ACD wants to open a community café on the former bowling green.

Fairmuir Bowling Green and pavilion.

Speaking on behalf of objectors, campaigner Elaine Kerr said: “Local residents are quite simply up in arms.

“We have no desire to have our park divvied up by the council and passed to these other enterprises to run as they see fit.

“There are so few green spaces left in the city and Fairmuir is one of those precious few.

“Both proposals could easily operate from one of the many empty brown sites across the city.

“It also makes us uneasy about them ultimately securing the entire park.”

Ms Kerr said residents were so infuriated that a group got together to object to the proposals.

Almost 1,500 people have signed the online petition and hundreds more have signed paper copies.

Ms Kerr said: “We are opposing the council’s right to basically hand over areas of a park which was gifted to the people of Dundee in 1883.

Coldside Community Forum will take forward our objections when the applications gets to the relevant stage.”

Football pavilion

DUCT wants to revamp the pavilion, currently used as changing rooms.

The trust had also planned to create an all-weather, floodlit, 3G pitch but abandoned this element following community concerns about noise and light pollution.

Jamie Kirk, chief executive of DUCT said: “Our initial idea involved the eventual upgrade of one grass pitch within the park to an all-weather floodlit 3G surface but this is no longer in our plans.

“The long-term ambition of the trust for the pavilion is that it can also become a base for the charity to support and extend our work in and for the local community.

“In addition to establishing a new base within pavilion, the trust also wishes to provide enhanced facilities and the consultation with the local community will shape how this looks.”

Jamie Kirk

Mr Kirk said DUCT wants to work with locals to provide facilities to be used and enjoyed by the community.

“We want to work with the local community to understand what the needs and wants are for the area, how we can help achieve this and whether there is a place for our initial ideas or not,” he said.

“This project, and the trust as a whole, is all about improving the lives of people in the local community and we want our consultation process and any resulting project to strongly reflect that. ”

Bowling green

Meanwhile, ACD has earmarked Fairmuir’s disused bowling green as a “preferred location” for a community hub and café.

Kara Swankie, operations manager  for ACD  stressed there are no plans to build on the wider park.

She said: “ACD is interested in creating a community hub which will house all our services, as well as creating a key community facility,  including café space and recreational usage for people within Dundee.

Kara Swankie.

“Prior to submitting any formal applications, ACD has chosen to engage with the community at the current preferred location to hear feedback.

“The bowling green is in a good location due to the geographical location, access for people using public transport, and is close to an area of high deprivation area.

Alexander Decorators, which set up the community development trust, are based near the park.

“We wishes to be quite clear that at this site, we have no interest in the park land, just
exclusively the bowling green, which is closed.”

Accessible to all

“We are  committed to bringing a high quality, sustainable building which is accessible to all.

“This will  allow us to expand our community projects and widen our grass roots engagement and collaboration in the city.”

Anyone who wants to see the plans or give feedback can visit the DUCT survey here or attend an online virtual engagement session for ACD on July 28.

Slots for this session can be booked here.

Community asset transfer

Dundee City Council said it cannot comment on specific community asset transfers, but said any future transfer must be in the interest of Dundee citizens.

A spokesman said: “Currently, no community asset transfer requests have been submitted by any organisation to Dundee City Council for any part of Fairmuir Park.

“The Community Empowerment Act 2015 places a duty on all public bodies in Scotland to consider any valid community asset transfer request.

“However, Dundee City Council also have a duty to ensure that any community asset transfer represents best value to the citizens of Dundee and an important part of ascertaining this would include inviting observations from local citizens and community groups once a valid community asset transfer request has been received.”