Angry Dundee residents have rejected plans to build a training centre and cafe on a popular park’s disused bowling green.
Locals remain unimpressed with proposals by Alexander’s Community Development (ACD) to take over the green and pavilion in Fairmuir Park for its own use.
As the charity unveiled its ambition for the area this week, many residents expressed fears they would lose valuable community green space.
ACD is one of two groups who want to transform parts of the park against the wishes of local people.
More than 1,600 people have signed a petition against the moves, saying it would mean giving away public land.
However, ADC chief executive John Alexander said there was confusion over the charity’s intentions.
And he pledged to work with the community to ensure the land remains open to all.
The proposals were on display in the park this week and people were invited to view them at socially-distanced sessions.
What are ACD’s plans for Fairmuir Park?
ACD wants to build a new centre to allow it to increase the skills training it offers.
Its current building is not fit for purpose and is unable to meet the demand for employability coaching.
The charity has described its proposals as a community campus with changing facilities, a community cafe with outdoor seating, training rooms and a large open training area.
Mr Alexander hopes residents will come round to the idea.
He said: “It’s been a mixed bag in all these sessions. We’re just looking to use the bowling green, not the park, which I think is causing some confusion.
“We want to work with the community to build something that is open.
“Fairmuir bowling green is fenced off at the moment, with the gates locked.
“We would be keeping the green space with the trees around the outside. And we’d be pulling down all the fencing and creating a pathway from the park.”
He said it would become a key community facility, with links to public transport.
ADC’s plans are only for the bowling green and it has no intention of building on the wider park.
Residents want to keep community space
However, locals are adamant they don’t want to hand bits of the park over to the group.
Resident Linda Finlay was against the idea, saying: “I feel it’s inappropriate for this site.
“I think this area should be kept for the community.
“It was donated to the residents of Dundee for recreational use and I don’t see how it can then be given an asset transfer to an industrial-type building.
“I’m not against what ACD do, I think it’s really commendable. I just think it’s the wrong place.”
Helen Beith added: “People that I’ve spoken to all want to keep this as a park for future generations. It’s giving away public land, and that’s just not right.”
Elaine Kerr, who started the petition, fears it could set a precedent.
“This is not the correct place for a building such as this,” she said.
“Whilst I understand the reasoning for the height of the building, this is still an industrial structure on a piece of public park.
“There are many many more unoccupied brown sites which are more suitable for this building.”
Elaine added: “Before long, it will surely mean the loss of even more our precious parks around the city.
“Other local communities should support us, as this will not be restricted to Fairmuir bowling green.”
Tony Walken said he was open to the idea of a community cafe, but added: “Whether this is the right site for it is difficult to comprehend at the minute”.
He continued: “I’m slightly dubious about how this is a community project.
“The council have neglected this park for years, so right now I’m leaning towards probably supporting it.”
What would you like to see here?
Most of the residents hoped that the bowling green could be turned into a community garden.
Linda said: “I would love to see some sort of community garden or recreational space – even maybe something for children.
“If you look at the park at night, there are keep fit groups, people playing volleyball, and there is even cricket going on.
“There are lots of things that would benefit from this being a recreation, community area.
“Even just something nice where people say ‘I want to come along and have a seat in a nice garden area’.
“It would be nice to have a wee area with some benches, flowers where people can just get together and have a chat with others.”