Phased approach approved for Hillside community project

The green light has been shown to the latest phases of a community development project at Hillside, Portlethen.

Aberdeenshire Council has been carefully considering options for the development of the grassed area adjacent to Hillside School which benefits from having developer obligation funds ring-fenced. These funds must be used by March 2021.

During initial discussions with the community, four distinct uses for the land were highlighted including the multi-use games area (a MUGA), community allotments, a full-size grass football pitch and community path routes.

Phase 1 of the programme saw the creation of the MUGA alongside the building of Hillside School which is now complete and proving popular in the community.

A cross-service project group led by the council’s Area Team comprising the council’s Property, Planning, Landscape, and Live Life Aberdeenshire teams have now drawn up a phased approach which will help prepare the land for useable recreational space and wider community benefit.

Members of the council’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee agreed yesterday (Tuesday, September 1) to proceed with the second phase of the project. This will involve enabling works to pave the way for around 24 community allotments and a school garden.

Councillors heard that the creation of base infrastructure on the site will enable subsequent phases to be more easily progressed. The work will include formation of an access road connection, hardstand car parking, ground levelling, drainage works and provision of a water supply.

The committee also agreed to proceed with the third phase of the project – the creation of community path routes and wildflower planting to form an attractive amenity area – as remaining funds permit. Bids will now be sought for the work.

Phases four and five will involve the development of the allotments themselves by a local user group and the creation of a full-size grass football pitch which will require substantial external funding if it is to proceed.

Following today’s meeting, area committee chair Cllr Wendy Agnew said: “I am delighted that the next phases of the Hillside community project have been approved. We continue to have very productive discussions with Portlethen & District Community Allotment Association, Portlethen Paths Development Group, Portlethen & District Community Council and the football community and I know they too will be eager to see works progress as soon as possible.

“It is important we also acknowledge that some will be disappointed that the sports facilities will not be delivered sooner, and we do empathise with them. However, while the current funding limits prohibit us from delivering the full-size grass pitch within this phase they still form part of the wider works.”