Forfar sporting groups have been given a springboard to future success with the thumbs up for pioneering Community Asset Transfer (CAT) schemes of town common good ground.
Strathmore Rugby Club plans to take over a pitch beside its clubhouse and main playing surface at Inchmacoble Park on the edge of Forfar Loch, while Phoenix Gymnastics Club has six-figure ambitions to develop a purpose built facility on the site of tennis courts associated with the town’s former Lochside leisure centre.
The CAT proposals were the first to be approved by a special meeting of Angus Council’s policy and resources committee in Forfar on Thursday under new community empowerment legislation relating to the disposal of common good assets.
The clubs will still have to secure court approval for the 99-year leases agreed by the committee.
Angus finance chiefs estimate the legal costs could range from as little as £3,000 up to £25,000 and the bill is to be split equally between the town common good – which currently sits at more than £600,000 – and the clubs.
Representatives of both outfits gave separate presentations to councillors, outlining their aspirations for the future.
The rugby club hopes to eventually create a synthetic surface on the pitch it will be taking over, enhancing a set-up which has been expanded significantly in Strathie’s more recent history.
Phoenix Gymnastics has its sights set on delivering a state-of-the-art training centre for its membership of more than 300.
Nearby Lochside leisure centre is at the centre of a judicial review case following a bid to prevent it being demolished, but officials said the proximity of the centre and the outcome of the judgement – expected within weeks – was not a barrier to determining the tennis courts CAT bid.
However, the committee stopped short of selling the land to each group, which was their preferred option, but in each case had been opposed by the town’s community council.
Forfar councillors warmly welcomed both applications, with Angus SNP group leader Lynne Devine describing the Phoenix plan as “ticking all the boxes”.
Forfar independent Ian McLaren said: “I fully support these. The Phoenix Gymnastics Club would be an excellent facility for Forfar and Angus, and Strathmore Rugby Club goes from strength to strength with great enthusiasm and opportunities for players of all ages.”
Fellow Forfar Independent Colin Brown added: “I think this is absolutely fantastic for both clubs. I admire their ambition and I wish them every success in taking their plans forward.”