A Moray sports charity hoping to transform a neglected piece of land into a multi-use sports pitch has had its initial bid to lease the ground recommended for rejection by council officials.
Elgin Community Sports Trust (ECST) applied for a rent-free lease of Lower Borough Briggs to refurbish it and make it a place for local youngsters to keep active.
They would also make it available to various community groups to use including the Men’s Shed to help combat social isolation in the region.
However, council officials have recommended that their bid be rejected and for a public consultation to be launched to decide what should be done with the site.
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It is a piece of Common Good land which means the local authority need to receive positive feedback from the public before they can sell it on or lease it, and need the court’s permission first.
Dave Allen, chairman of the ESCT, insisted that it was not all bad news for the charity, as they looked to find the money needed to purchase the ground.
He said: “It hasn’t been rejected outright as it stands, the recommendation is that it shouldn’t be considered as they can’t give the land away for free as it is not in the interest of the council which has to look after the land properly.
“The next hurdle for us is to try and find a way for us to afford it as what we want is best for the community and we need to make sure we are doing right by them.
“I’m currently making an application to the Scottish Land Fund as we will be eligible as the ground will be so much more than just a sports field, it will have social and welfare benefits for the community as well.
“I am not frustrated, just trying to clarify what needs done and it is good to hear from the council.”
Andrew Gray, asset manager coordinator at Moray Council suggested that the land should only be leased at a 100% discount if all other options for selling it were exhausted.
He said: “The Common Good site at Lesser Borough Briggs is not required for council service delivery and, if court consent is forthcoming, could be sold on the open market for a significant capital receipt that would be used to provide an ongoing benefit to the Elgin community.”