Resounding yes for Knock Park community buyout

Some Lochaline Pirates enjoying the Morvern Games and Gala Week in 2014. Photograph Iain Ferguson, The Write Image.

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Morvern Games and Gala Week committee have revealed that they received a resounding ‘yes’ from their community survey on the question of a buyout of their historic sports ground and surrounding land.

Ally Nudds committee chairperson, was delighted with the outcome – 219 responses to the household survey.

The questionnaire revealed 88 per cent of respondees in favour (yes or possibly) of
community acquisition of Knock Park, and 81 per cent in favour of acquiring more adjacent land if practicable for income generation and other amenities.

‘We now feel we have to go for it,’ said Ally.

‘We have completed a feasibility study and are now going to go back out to the
community to explain our ideas, with a series of meetings next week.’

‘Our primary reason for exploring the buyout is so that, as a landowner, the
community can apply for grants to bring much needed improvements such as services
(water, electricity etc) to the Games field and build a fully accessible clubhouse, which will enable other sports and events such as Music festivals, triathalon etc to be held in
Lochaline.’

The community also supported this suggestion of developing a motorhome area with full facilities including waste disposal, with 73 per cent in favour.

‘With the popularity of staycations we also have the opportunity to generate
income by developing this facility.’ added Ally. ‘Something we feel is becoming necessary in Morvern.

The income will assist in the running cost of the clubhouse and benefit local businesses.’

Landowners, Ardtornish Estate, also support community ownership of the Games field and an examination of the potential of the surrounding land can be established to help sustain the planned improvements.

With the support of Ardtornish and HIE, MGGW successfully applied for funding from Stage 1 of the Scottish Land Fund to explore the possibility of purchasing Knock Park and surrounding areas for the community.

James Hilder of An Roth Associates who published a feasibility study said: ‘The Games
Committee got a strong turnout and a very clear directive from the community so we have looked to see if the sums stack up.

‘There is clearly a need for a much better building on the site and if combined with income generating opportunities like a gym, an area for motorhomes and venue hire, then facilities for Lochaline could be transformed over the next five years.

‘It’s important that residents continue to have their say so we are hosting
four meetings on September 21, 23 and 24.’

Highland Games have been played at the park for most of the last century, with generations of Morvern folk taking turns on the committee.

Secretary, Megan Whyte said: ‘MGGW being cancelled for the second year due to the pandemic was devastating news for all concerned, but it has given us the opportunity to direct our energies to looking at the long-term future of the Games.

‘We are delighted with the support the community has shown us through the survey results and look forward to taking things to the next stage.’

As well as an accessible clubhouse with more parking and larger area for events, other ideas being proposed if the acquisition goes ahead include lengthening the pitch to allow for multiple sports to be played, an outdoor and indoor gym, activity trails, buying the woodland to create a new footpath, bringing Knock Park closer to the village and possible woodland crofts, workshops/storage areas and a small golf course.

‘This is just the start of what we hope will be, an exciting journey,’ remarked Megan.

‘Nothing has been decided yet but the various ideas from the community have been
assessed and a plan is emerging. What we need now is for folk to give us some feedback on the study – whether by email, letter, coming along next week to our meetings in the village hall or on Zoom.’

Anyone can contact the group via social media or email knockpark@outlook.com

Socially distanced Presentations and Zoom meetings (email the Secretary on the address above for login details) will be held shortly. Look out for posters and check the MGGW social media platforms.