16 June 2021

New pitch and open spaces strategy to provide greater opportunities for community groups

Aberdeenshire Council is to be asked to support a new strategy for the use and development of pitches and open spaces that will give a greater focus to community involvement.

The Live Life Aberdeenshire Pitch and Open Space Strategy has been endorsed by the council’s Communities Committee following consideration of views from area committees.

The strategy aims to create a range of network pitch forums, known as ‘pitch user groups’ to lead on aspects of the management and maintenance of outdoor spaces. 

The document also recommends defining types of pitches and open spaces, with competitive sports pitches being managed directly by Live Life Aberdeenshire, community sports pitches for possible management by local groups, and public spaces maintained for informal use. 

Each network would have its own development plan with identified local priorities, and a focus on the promotion and provision of a range of sports.

Current provision across Aberdeenshire has been examined on a network-by-network basis and, given the significant scope of potential projects, spending will need to be prioritised.

It is expected that delivery of the network plans would be met through a combination of funding from Live Life Aberdeenshire, developer contributions, support in kind and fundraising from community groups, and funding applications.

Live Life Aberdeenshire has allocated £1.4 million towards the strategy up to March 2025. Projects already planned include the delivery of a synthetic pitch at Huntly, and the development of a pavilion and pitches at Kellands Park, Inverurie.

Where funding hasn’t been identified, Live Life Aberdeenshire will work with pitch user groups to support funding applications and fundraising efforts.

The strategy would also see the creation of a single process for booking pitches to make it easier for groups to access sites, while allowing Education & Children’s Services to manage the use of school pitches to ensure delivery of the curriculum.

Speaking after the discussion, Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said: “It’s pleasing to see the strategy reach this stage of development. It has involved a significant amount of work and consultation to take account of current provision across Aberdeenshire and the consideration of future needs.

“A fundamental aim of the strategy is to provide the opportunity for community groups to take a greater role in the management and development of sites, with ongoing support from Live Life Aberdeenshire.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr Judy Whyte added: “The strategy is ambitious but provides a clear route for how projects might be achieved over the coming years for competitive sport, community groups and for wider use of our open and green spaces.

“The involvement of community groups has been an important part in the creation of the new approach and will continue to be so as the strategy progresses.”

Operations Manager for Live Life Aberdeenshire, Tim Stephen, said: “We are really pleased with the level of support for the strategy to date and the commitment from Aberdeenshire Council – however community support and input will be critical going forward if the strategy is to be fully realised.”

The draft strategy will next come before the Education & Children’s Services Committee and the Infrastructure Services Committee before a final decision is made by the full council later this year.