New changing rooms agreed for Cowan Park

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Changing rooms in Cowan Park will be revamped and leased to a youth football club to address an “unfulfilled commitment” made by the council.

East Renfrewshire’s authority has been working with Barrhead Youth Football Club to find a solution to a long-running issue.

The need to relocate the replacement Barrhead High School from the site which had been initially earmarked in 2014 thwarted plans to provide changing rooms on land previously used for the Johnnie Kelly pavilion.

Three options were put to the council’s cabinet to fulfil its agreement: a “bespoke” new build costing around £730,000, a basic new build at £520,000 or refurbishing and leasing the existing 7’s pavilion and leasing the park’s 4G pitch to the Barrhead club at an estimated cost of around £300,000.

The third option, which had been recommended for approval, was agreed.

It means a 25-year lease, at £1 per year, will be arranged with the football club, which will take over the maintenance, for the pavilion and 4G pitch.

The current artificial pitch and changing facilities used by the club will be transferred to the council.

A new meeting room will be created in the pavilion as well as disabled toilets and disabled access. Barrhead High School students will have access to the pitches during the school day from Monday to Friday.

Back in 2012, the council approved a financial contribution towards the creation of a 3G pitch and changing facilities in Cowan Park to be managed by Barrhead Youth Football Club.

Councillors agreed to provide an area of ground at a notional rent to allow the 3G pitch to be built.

They also agreed to allow the lease, or licence to occupy, of the Johnnie Kelly pavilion to the football club for changing rooms on the completion of the replacement Barrhead High School.

But in 2014, the authority decided to relocate the replacement school after a Court of Session ruling on common goods issues which halted the original plan.

The new site was on the land used by the Johnnie Kelly pavilion, which needed to be demolished. The council was therefore unable to fulfil its commitment to provide the Barrhead club with changing rooms at the old site.

Footballers have since used the changing rooms within the existing 7’s pavilion and their own portable cabins. “There has therefore been an unfulfilled commitment for some time now for the council to provide Barrhead Youth Football Club with permanent and more suitable changing facilities within Cowan Park,” a report to councillors stated.

“Given the overall situation this is considered to be a sensible approach to offset the lack of funding available to build Barrhead Youth Football Club brand new changing facilities while at the same time providing best value for the council.”

Since 2017, £300,000 has been available to provide changing rooms. The 4G pitch was funded, and is currently maintained, by the council when Barrhead High School was rebuilt.

A new Johnnie Kelly Pavilion, with eight changing rooms, was also built near to the council’s four grass pitches and the 3G pitch. It is managed by the council for organised football pitch lets.

The council will apply to the Sheriff Court for the removal of Common Good land at the 7’s Pavilion, and replace it with equivalent sized Common Good ground elsewhere in the park.