Upper Achintore playing pitch row rumbles on

Upper Achintore Regeneration Group chairman, Mark Linfield, on the area of green space at the rear of Ross Place which had been suggested by the community as a site for a new play pitch area. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F23 UPP ACH PLAYPARK 01
Upper Achintore Regeneration Group chairman, Mark Linfield, on the area of green space at the rear of Ross Place which had been suggested by the community as a site for a new play pitch area. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F23 UPP ACH PLAYPARK 01

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Failure to secure a price within budget for a new enhanced playing field in Fort William means Highland Council is now unable to confirm a timetable for the work, which was supposed to be completed by the end of August.

The completion date for the pitch was one of the conditions attached to planning consent granted in 2019 for the 38 new affordable housing properties to be delivered jointly by the council and the Highland Housing Alliance at Upper Achintore in Fort William.

When the former school at Zetland Avenue in Upper Achintore was closed to make way for the new school, local youngsters were using the astro turf pitch at the old school but then this got swallowed up as part of the site for the 38 new homes.

Upper Achintore Regeneration Group chairman, Mark Linfield, says local residents are fed up waiting for the pitch to be delivered as promised.

‘One of the conditions was that Highland Council would provide a new pitch at Ross Place, yet we are still waiting four years after the housing development started,’ he told the Lochaber Times.

‘It [the housing] has now been finished for over a year and Highland Council has slowly but surely shrunk the size of pitch promised and recently even said it would have to be a grass pitch instead of a MUGA surface as we’d been promised.

‘MSP Arianne Burgess did get involved on our behalf and the latest is that the council is putting out for tenders on a grass pitch and a MUGA pitch and will then see what costs are involved.

‘Apparently they tried to get tenders for a grass pitch at the start of this year but only received interest from one contractor.

‘Highland Council has to build us a new pitch as it was a planning condition. They were given a Section 42 for not complying with the original condition, with the pitch supposed to be completed by end of August and they haven’t even started yet.’

Asked to comment on the situation, a spokesperson for the local authority told us: ‘We sought tenders for works to the pitch but were unsuccessful in securing a quote within budget.

‘However, while we are unable at this time to provide a timescale for works on site we are striving to complete a soon as is possible and working along with the Upper Achintore Regeneration Group to deliver an appropriate surface.

‘We are currently preparing revised tender documents which will seek tenders in the coming month with an expectation that works can start on site as soon as possible.’