Development plans cause local fury.

Artists impression of proposed development
Artists impression of proposed development

It looks as if Whitecraigs is soon to become a ‘no sports’ area if yet another developer is succesfull with their approach to buy out the Tennis Club.

Two weeks ago we reported on the bowling club members selling their land to developers McCarthy & Stone on the basis that the club was no longer financially viable.

Whitecraigs Bowling Club, the subject of a proposed land sale

Whitecraigs Bowling Club, the subject of a proposed land sale

This week The Extra can exclusively reveal that outgoing Whitecraigs Lawn Tennis and Sports Club president Gill MacAulay, has written to her members saying: “The club has been approached by a developer to sell our current site and move to a new site (with full ownership of that new site and the facility).”

This almost predatory type of land grab approach is becoming more common in areas where building land is at a premium, and unless a developer can buy up and demolish exisiting facilities, there is little opportunity for building projects to proceed.

When The Extra approached the club, they said: “In an era where we have to look forward in order to remain sustainable and to offer the best services to our members; we must always remain open to new initiatives.

“A dialogue with a tentative offer has been made to the club that we are currently investigating and naturally, the best interests of our members and the community is paramount. Once we are in a position to offer more information our priority would be to share that with our membership.”

The club refused to divulge who the developer is.

McCarthy & Stone commented: “We have not approached Whitecraigs Lawn Tennis Club to purchase their site.”

In a further twist on the sale of Whitecraigs Bowling Club, this week the sports governing body have stepped in following accusations by the Broom Consortium that an offer of both financial and professional assistance has been ignored completely in favour of a monetary reward from a land sale.

The Extra reported two weeks ago on the possibility of Whitecraigs Bowling Club being sold to a housing developer which had angered local residents.

Now this week the club stand accused of ignoring assistance which would allow them future stability.

A spokeswoman for the group opposed to any development said: “A letter, which was hand delivered to the president on February 9, offering direct, immediate financial help and expertise was not read out nor distributed and to date the club have not replied to the offer. The above facts lead Broom Community to the conclusion that this proposed sale is motivated by the prospect of financial gain and has nothing to do with a club in decline.”

Bowls Scotland’s Development Manager, Colin Hutchison commented: “As the national governing body, a major focus of our work is supporting clubs to bring more people into the game.

“Clubs that are serious about developing their memberships engage fully locally and encourage new members.

“We know that Whitecraigs Bowling Club is facing possible closure and that there is a proposal to develop the site into blocks of flats.

“Whitecraigs is one of our oldest clubs and we want to see it flourishing and introducing new generations to the sport for years to come. The approach by the community, as outlined in the letter we have viewed, is exactly the type of initiative we encourage all our clubs to explore.”

If it hasn’t already done so we strongly recommend the club considers what appears to be a genuine offer of professional and financial support from local residents who are clearly passionate about the benefits of having a thriving bowls club at their centre. With this indication of support from the local community we believe that we could work with the club to secure their future and ensure the club remains a valuable asset to the local community.”

It is believed that McCarthy & Stone are proposing 28 flats on the site with an offer around £2.8m being made. This, according to the campaign group would make the sale price of the retirement flats in the region of £450,000 per unit, well outwith the reach of most retirees.

A spokesperson for McCarthy & Stone said: “The agreement with the bowling club is commercially confidential. It is too early in the planning process to provide any information on pricing.”

More recently a public petition was launched to try and stop the development of the bowling club. At the time of going to press this had seen 430 people signing up.

Tracey Paterson said: “It would be a disaster to destroy a beautiful historic pavilion and green space for yet more flats,” while Anthony Grieve said: “This type of space needs to be retained for the future - get the club to reopen its membership list rather than hold out for financial gain.”

The Extra has had no response from the club’s management despite numerous attempts to discuss this issue with them,

East Ren Council have confirmed they have had pre-planning talks with the developers.