Council to further explore calls for Portlethen sports pitch as wider outdoor strategy developed

Community calls for a new synthetic pitch at Hillside, Portlethen, are to be further explored as work continues on the creation of a strategy for outdoor sport and physical activity facilities across Aberdeenshire.

At a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Communities Committee on Thursday (Thu, Nov 8) it was agreed that any decision on the principle of a 3G pitch at Hillside should be deferred until an Outdoor Sport and Physical Activity Facilities Strategy has been considered.

But to address concerns from councillors about a lack of detail about the Portlethen situation and the need to set clear timescales, a series of actions was agreed to allow further discussions to take place locally in the meantime.

In June this year, the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee asked that a report be brought before Communities Committee to consider funding options for the construction of a 3G pitch at Portlethen.

At Thursday's meeting, Cllr Ian Mollison outlined the background to the community campaign and the discussions that have taken place at meetings of the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee.

He went on to voice disappointment that more information wasn’t available for the Communities Committee to consider and asked for assurance that there would be ongoing engagement with local groups and that the issue ‘wouldn’t be kicked into the long grass’.

Head of Lifelong Learning and Leisure John Harding said the service was indeed engaging with the community to explain the council’s approach to pitch provision and that discussions had taken place to look at how the best use can be made of existing facilities.

In the discussion that followed, other committee members shared concerns about the lack of detail about the Portlethen situation, leading to additional measures being agreed for progression. 

Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling proposed that a briefing note on the situation be prepared for councillors, that a meeting be organised with ward councillors as part of a ‘master-planning’ exercise for the Portlethen proposals, and that a timeline be developed. She also asked that conversations take place with local sports groups. 

Speaking after the committee, Cllr Stirling said: “The committee recognised the strength of feeling from the Portlethen community regarding local sports provision and the need to explore the matter further.

“It is equally important that we develop a clear strategy for the provision of sports surfaces across Aberdeenshire so that we can make the best use of existing resources and are able to prioritise opportunities for future development.”

It is expected that initial findings from the development of the strategy will be available early in 2019.