Sporting Drama at Community Council

By Jane Cruickshank / March 15, 2023
Rugby Club sign

LAST night’s meeting of Stonehaven and District Community Council, SDCC, was an epic and dramatic gathering with one landowner making public his offer of land for two rugby pitches, another proposing development on his land saying it could bring sports facilities – and the internal management chaos of the Recreation Grounds being laid bare.

Jonathan Milne revealed his proposal to Mackie RFC as he was concluding his update on developments at Ury Estate. Mr Milne joked about having rugby fans in his family, and said he hoped the offer of land at Ury would work for the club.

The FM director said previous discussions had looked at leasing the land, but he understood ownership was needed by the Club to access funding.

”It has been offered to them, they can have it if they want it,” he said.

SDCC chairman David Lawman greeted the information with obvious glee.

He said: ”This is the best news we’ve heard all night.”

”It’s recorded!” he added.

Grounds for disagreement

The discussions about Stonehaven Tennis Club’s planning application for an inflatable tennis arena were less happy.

The development of an indoor tennis facility was one of the successful options in last year’s participatory budgeting exercise, achieving an allocation of £250,000. Trustee Stuart Alexander described the changing nature of the project due to land constraints, the tight timelines being imposed on the funding and the benefits the amenity would bring to the Club’s membership which includes some 170 juniors.

But fellow trustee Norman Mackay revealed the proposals did not have the backing of trustees from the Indoor and Outdoor Bowling Clubs. He said the structure would impact the bowling greens with shading and increased flood risks and would affect the bar and cafe area. The fans, he said, would bring noise impacts that could affect both bowlers and caravanners. And he said the arena would bring a loss of income as one or two caravans would have to be removed.

Mr Mackay said the Tennis Club had not produced a business plan to cover the ongoing costs of the structure and replace lost revenues and said any liabilties would fall to the trustees.

Hammering home the dischord, he added: ”The Tennis Club is self-sufficient. They contribute nothing to the running of the grounds.”

A member of the public summed up the feelings of many people at the meeting.

She said: ”I was for the tennis arena but there are big divisions between the trustees and this should all be resolved – that would be a better way to use your energy.”

Mooting a Sports hub?

Land owner Richard Baird then jumped into the fray regaling the meeting with a history of his family’s land ownership and gifts of land made to Stonehaven – including, he said, the Recreation Grounds.

Mr Baird said the tennis and bowling clubs should share a facility and criticised Stonehaven’s silo thinking.

”You’ve got to think about the whole thing in the round for the whole community,” he said.

Richard Holman Baird

Calling for the map of Ury Estate to be put back on the screen, Mr Baird highlighted two fields on the other side of Slug Road he owned. And, describing himself as asset rich but cash poor, said he may have to sell the fields for development.

”The Tennis Club – if you are in the wrong area down at the sea front, then if you moot with this developer you might have a chance there,” he said.

”These green fields will be the next development in Stonehaven. It is a large area, ” he added.

Mr Baird said local groups should identify their needs – prompting Jim Stephen to flag the gymnastics club and the town’s needs for a sports hub.

Meanwhile, David Lawman asked that Mr Baird formalised his offer with a, ‘joined up thought out proposal’.

The meeting concluded at 9.45pm.