Changed days for playing fields with pavilion plans

Arboretum playing fields

Arboretum playing fields

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A FIRE-HIT sports pavilion that has lain derelict for nearly a decade is to be replaced with state-of-the-art changing facilities at no cost to the taxpayer – if a landmark deal gets the green light.

City-owned Arboretum Playing Fields could be leased out to Stewart’s Melville College under the agreement that would see the private school gain more pitches for football and rugby training in return for new shower and changing facilities that could be worth around £750,000.

The deal has been described as a “win-win” scenario for both parties, as well as St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School, Trinity High School, Inverleith Rugby Club and Holy Cross Cricket Club, which all regularly use the fields.

Vandals torched the pavilion in 2003, prompting city chiefs to draft in portable cabins with changing rooms and showers that were also wrecked in 2008. It is thought a permanent building may help to deter antisocial behaviour and cut costs to the city, which spends £10,000 a year on maintaining the two temporary buildings.

The pavilion would double the number of changing and shower rooms to four, with the lease given to Stewart’s Melville expected to exceed ten years.

Despite being rented out to the private school, the deal would accommodate all users of the park, and the council believes there would be no restriction of access to sports clubs making use of it.

Under the terms of the lease, Stewart’s Melville would be responsible for the maintenance and management of the sports pitches. It would also pay for the demolition of the derelict pavilion.

Jonathan Molloy, a bursar at Stewart’s Melville College, said the proposal would help relieve pressure on the school’s sports grounds, “solves a problem” for the council and removes a long-standing eyesore from the playing fields.

Hamish Campbell, club secretary of Inverleith Rugby Club, which plays its home fixtures at Arboretum and trains there twice a week, said: “It would be a very positive step in the right direction having not had these facilities for so long.”

“A permanent building would be great because it could help to attract more players if we have better facilities.”

He added: “Our view is that if it’s beneficial to all parties then it’s the best way forward. It seems to be efficient use of what money there is available.”

Education leader Paul Godzik said: “The proposals are very interesting, and we are very keen to explore them
further. It could be a win-win, with the school gaining much-needed access to pitches, while the council and resident clubs gain a new and improved sports pavilion.”