Sports centre fight goes on despite council rejection

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Plans for a community sports area on land currently owned by Argyll and Bute Council were dealt a blow before Christmas when the authority refused to transfer the area to a community group.

The dream is to create a multi-sports centre at Kilmory Home Farm including a rugby, pitch, running track, shooting targets and BMX tracks.

The group behind the project, community company Kilmory Woodlands, has now appealed against the decision, made at a meeting of members of the council’s policy and resources committee on December 17.

Kilmory Woodlands group is seeking a 99-year lease for Kilmory Home Farm, at a rate of £1 per year and submitted an asset transfer request to the council.

The council’s executive director with responsibility for customer services, Douglas Hendry, recommended rejection due to lack of suitable documentation and because there is no access to the site.

Mr Hendry reminded members the council’s asset transfer group decided in June last year that the request contained the relevant information required by legislation for it to be validated.

But ‘best value’ considerations were said to be ‘weak’. In October, the asset transfer group recommended the request be refused.

In a report to councillors, Mr Hendry said: ‘The request has not adequately identified relevant costs, including initial investment, ongoing running costs and end of project costs, or how the project will be funded in the future.’

Mr Hendry’s report also stated that while the land is currently deemed surplus to requirements, it is integral to the future development of Kilmory Industrial Estate.

Letters of support for the scheme have been received from Mid Argyll Rugby Club and umbrella body Scottish Target Shooting.

Kilmory Woodlands contends the council failed to request additional information despite having time to do so; funding for project appraisal is difficult without real prospect of the land becoming available; access would not be difficult with a new road from Kilmory Park; the site is outwith the development of either ilmory Industrial Estate and Kilmory Park; and the development would help redress rural social and economic inequality for sporting facilities.

In its appeal, Kilmory Woodlands adds: ‘A long lease is required as it could take 10 years to complete the full development and it will need continued maintenance and funding over time.

‘The council needs to encourage long-term thinking, particularly if Mid Argyll is to grow economically.’