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‘Catto Park will make the next generation proud’

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The group behind the Catto Park development proposal believe the development would create a lasting legacy for the town of Peterhead.

More than 100 residents flocked to Peterhead Football Club’s Balmoor Stadium last week for the big reveal of long-awaited architectural plans.

Working group member and Commonwealth Games baton bearer Stephen Bruce spoke to the Buchanie after the presentation and said: “It is ambitious but why should we not be ambitious with our plans?

“We’ve got the biggest town in Aberdeenshire but our sports facilities - our whole infrastructure - is really lacking.

“We owe it to the young generation to give it something it will be proud of.”

The working group spearheading the ‘unique’ project - made up of officials from the football club, Aberdeenshire Council and various Peterhead community and sports groups - estimates the cost of the redevelopment will be £17m.

In the days following the public consultation senior officials from Aberdeenshire Council have thrown their

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support behind the project in principle.

They have, however, admitted any financial commitment would be small given the budgetary constraints currently facing the local authority.

Chair of Education, Learning and Leisure councillor Isobel Davidson said: “Aberdeenshire Council have been pleased to be involved in the concept exercise to date and are impressed by the proposals that have emerged.

“The concept now requires full examination to explore how best to take it forward.

“This would require phasing and elements of reduction, but the council will be keen to support the development in all the ways we can, as a partner, within the financial constraints that we face.”

Council leader cllr Jim Gifford was at the Balmoor meeting and added: “The council is pleased to be a partner in this exciting and innovative community-led proposal.”

Aberdeenshire Council have been closely involved with the project to date.

A ‘feasibility study’ was conducted last year before the local authority and Peterhead FC jointly funded consultancy firm PMR Leisure to come on board and draft a business strategy.

Now the working group will begin the ardous process of securing financial backers for the project and negotiations with Aberdeenshire Council for futher funding for feasibility and costing work will kick this process off.

A exhaustive presentation from consultancy firm PMR Leisure charted the history of the proposal, from Peterhead FC’s original idea to last night’s unveiling.

The site would become a centre of sporting excellence with new dedicated synthetic pitches for football and hockey, a revamped athletics track, a boxing gym and a ‘community learning enviroment.’

A centrepiece of the project is a new integrated facility for the Willowbank adult training centre.

Willowbank day centre manager Una Simpson, who sits on the working group, has described the possibility of moving parts of the facility to the Catto Park development as an exciting opportunity which must be explored.

When the project was put to different architectural firms, only Michael Laird Architects actually visited Willowbank.

This was a major factor in the design to award the contract to the Edinburgh firm.

PMR director Penny 
Lochhead said: “What we’ve

discovered is that what we’re doing here at Catto Park is unique in the UK.

“It may indeed be unique in the whole of Europe.”

She added the working group hoped the project would become ‘a hub for all.’

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the presentation was the revelation Balmoor’s existing main stand would be demolitioned and incorporated in a single new structure.

It was previously thought the new facilities would stand alongside Peterhead’s ground.

The new building would run the length of the current stand with a footbridge connecting the site to Balmoor Terrace.

A show of hands following the presentation saw the vast majority of residents in favour of the project.

Further concerns were raised by another member of the community council, Peterhead resident Stephen Calder.

In a heated debate, Mr Calder challenged Stephen Bruce’s suggestion that Catto Park could become a new hub for Peterhead.

Mr Calder told the Buchanie: “To me, this attitude goes some way to explain the problems of the town.

“Instead of working to renovate and regenerate the historic heart of the town, some are happy to abandon it to deterioration.”

A statement on the Peterhead FC website following the meeting said: “This project brings together community, sport, day care services and education & training provision under one integrated inclusive environment and has the potential to become the beating heart of the Peterhead Community.”

 

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