A community transfer of Arbroath’s only plastic pitch has kicked off hopes of an early replacement of the “dangerous” surface with a new £200,000 alternative.
Despite concerns over the synthetic surface at Arbroath sports centre being taken out of council control, Skilz Academy was hailed for its ambitious plan to put in a new pitch and develop additional facilities including changing rooms to meet local demand.
Angus Council’s Covid-19 special arrangements committee gave the green light to the first stage of the community asset transfer (CAT) application, with Arbroath administration councillor Derek Wann branding the current surface well past its sell-by date.
The Arboath East and Lunan Conservative said: “It is actually a disgrace for the size of the town that Arbroath has gone without synthetic pitch provision.
“It is something Arbroath has been crying out for and for years this pitch has been dangerous to play on.
“There is a will to work together on this and I would very much like to see this go ahead.”
Angus education chiefs and Angus Alive, the authority’s arms’ length leisure trust which is responsible for the pitch on the sports centre/High School campus, had each flagged up concerns around areas such as future use for pupils and the charging regime.
No other objections to the CAT plan were submitted, but almost 40 letters of support were sent to the authority.
An education official said: “We do know that it needs investment. It remains in the best interests of the council to remain an asset within our control.”
SAC members heard there had been no bid for capital investment in the facility until the council’s 2020/21 budget and that had been put on hold following the CAT application.
Sidlaws SNP councillor Beth Whiteside said: “I also support this and it is actually a bit worrying that the level of neglect and mismanagement has got us to where we are now.”
Skilz Academy official Mark Anderson assured the committee of the group’s willingness to work with council officials to iron out areas of concern.
The group’s initial phase involves replacement of the astroturf surface, with future plans to replace the existing floodlights and develop a community building next to the pitch housing toilets, changing rooms, a meeting room/classroom and office space.
Angus administration leader and Arbroath councillor David Fairweather said: “There are downsides, but this is a good organisation and with the community benefit of what is being put in front of us it will give us something that the council certainly don’t have at the moment.”