City set to kick off £130k boost for outdoor sport

Sighthill Park will benefit from a cash boost. Picture: Julie Bull
Sighthill Park will benefit from a cash boost. Picture: Julie Bull
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NEGLECTED outdoor sports facilities across the Capital look set to receive a £130,000 upgrade to bring them back into play.

Culture chiefs will be asked next week to agree the investment in pitch facilities and new courts in Sighthill, Queensferry and Trinity.

The cash boost would fund improvements to existing football and rugby facilities, plus the creation of new tennis and basketball courts.

The culture and sport committee is due to discuss the plans on Tuesday after a report outlined a funding package for outdoor sport.

Councillors will be asked to allocate £50,000 towards establishing the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy in Sighthill, in partnership with Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh Napier University. This will include work to upgrade the changing pavilion in Sighthill Park.

Cllr Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport convener, said: “We have a range of outdoor courts and pitches in Edinburgh, but some sites are being better used than others.

“By upgrading and adding to the facilities we already have, we will hope to inspire more people to get into outdoor sport and physical activity.

“The BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy will support young and aspiring rugby players as they develop their skills and aim to reach their full potential, whether at a club or professional level, but we are also conscious of the needs of local pitch users.”

Cllr Lewis went on: “In Sighthill Park, we have five football pitches but they are being under-used.

“By partnering with the university, we could offer a new home for Napier’s pitch sports teams, while also offering better facilities for local users, schools and community groups.”

Mark Dodson, chief executive of Scottish Rugby, described the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academies as a “key pillar” of their strategy to give young, talented boys and girls the chance to develop their rugby and life skills close to home.

“We have been working for some time with our partners, Edinburgh Napier University and City of Edinburgh Council, to develop this project and we hope this important first step at Sighthill can be taken,” he said.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Napier University said: “We hope that the ongoing discussions, including the plan to improve the sports pavilion at the park, are successful.”

The council will also be asked to provide £10,000 to complete the reinstatement of two tennis courts and the creation of a new basketball court at Victoria Park, to be opened in time for the school summer break.

Under an agreement with developers of the former Agilent site in Queensferry, an additional £70,000 is available for sports facilities.

Councillors will consider using the funding to convert grass football pitches into all-weather 3G pitches for rugby and football training.