Lochaber RFC makes pitch for ownership of Banavie ground

Lochaber vs Deeside rugby. Abrightside Photography. F14Rugby5noJP
Lochaber RFC wants to take legal ownership of its Banavie pitch. F14Rugby5noJP

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Lochaber Rugby Club is hoping community asset transfer legislation will allow it to acquire legal ownership of its Banavie pitch, nearby car park and old swing park area.

Chairing the recent meeting of Kilmallie Community Council, deputy chairman John Hutchison explained the club was keen to pursue a community asset transfer.

But one resident who lives close to the rugby ground raised a concern that if the pitch transferred in ownership from Highland Council to the club, it was no longer a public amenity.

‘What if they wanted to put a fence round the whole thing or block off the car park? Some people like to take their children and dogs there but if the club owns the pitch, it might want to stop that sort of thing happening,’ said Tony Whitelocke.

Community council secretary Russell Leaper added: ‘This is something we would need to look at quite closely because any transfer from public to private ownership is a potential concern.

‘I think we need to know why the club feels it is necessary to do this. It seems the council already does a good job maintaining the pitch so I’m not sure why the club feels there is a need for it to be transferred into private ownership.’

Mr Hutchsion said the community council had to perhaps be careful about using the word ‘private’ when it came to transfer of ownership. ‘I think it could be disputed it would be going into private control, as the club is a community organisation.

‘So I think the most sensible thing to do is write a letter to the club just to get a bit more clarity on this point.’

Asked to comment on its proposals, Lochaber RFC told the Lochaber Times: ‘We acknowledge, of course, that the options are being looked at by the club and the new committee will continue this thought process and progress these very early discussions around asset transfer.

‘As a club we are always looking for ways to develop on and off the pitch. Any future plans have community at the heart of our decision making process and we would like for that to be represented.’

A council spokesman said: ‘Initial investigations suggest the council owns the playing field and play area. A title investigation would be required to confirm the extent of the council’s ownership and any restrictions on disposal of the land.

‘The council has a clear community asset transfer process available to community groups and officers will assist any group wishing to explore a potential asset transfer.’