Forest Park Final Decision

By bellmannews / November 15, 2022
View across park to Forest View Centre

MACKIE Rugby Football Club could still have a home at Forest Park if Aberdeenshire Council’s Business Services Committee follows officers’ recommendation to hand over the land for the nominal sum of one pound.

If approved at Thursday’s meeting, the asset transfer would be subject to one condition – the Rugby Club gaining planning permission for their proposals for a club house, lighting and fencing etc.

Mackie RFC has almost 1,400 members of whom 461 are active players – including the largest junior section in the North East of Scotland.

Despite this flourishing membership, the rugby players are running closer and closer to the wire in their activities having already lost one of their pitches at Redcloak in 2019 and with the lease of the second expiring in 2026. Mackie RFC has explored a series of possible alternative sites for their pitches but has failed to secure any suitable land.

In 2020, they started exploring the possibility of an asset transer of their former training ground at Forest Park. The club’s dilemma then became one of having strong support for their activities – but not there. A Save our Park group was formed and submitted a petition with 1165 names objecting to the proposal.

In this manner they failed to find the backing of Stonehaven and District Community Council – who wanted Aberdeenshire Council to tackle the problem and find a suitable alternative site.

Another knock-back was when their application came before the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee in August this year and our local councillors had to make a ‘finely balanced’ decision. Despite councillors being advised on the legal presumption in favour of asset transfers, the lack of clear public backing tipped the scales and the committee refused the request.

Business Services Committee has final say

As the decision of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee was contrary to officers’ recommendation, according to Aberdeenshire Council’s scheme of governance, the Business Services Committee is required to make a final determination.

The report prepared for the Committee states: ”The determination of an asset transfer application is a quasi-judicial matter, therefore, Members must have regard to the provisions of Section 7 of the Councillors Code of Conduct, in particular, the duty to ensure a proper and fair hearing of the application.”

The Business Services Committee meets on Thursday November 17 at 10.15am. The full agenda and associated papers are available online – along with links to the online sessions.