Ardrossan Community Sport Clubs initial objective was to build a Community Sports & Leisure facility to the east of Winton Park for the benefit of the local area, but they soon found out that obtaining funding for this project was going to be a near impossible task and therefore the board of the Sports club set out on a different path to allow the realisation of the Community Park to take place. The Sports Club had carried out some significant work though as it had secured funding for consultants to carry out a feasibility study and business plan. This included a soil analysis that informed us that the ground contamination was low-level, good news for future planning.
A steering group which had as its members interested local people that had varying skills set that would benefit the aims and objectives of the club was created and understood that to obtain funding the group had to be set up as an organisation that funders would look on favorably, and with that in mind an application was made to the Office of Scottish Charity Regulator for charitable status, which was successful, and we were given charitable status in September 2019.
With the board of Trustees now in place to manage the charity we could then look at making funding bids, which would not be an easy task. The expertise needed for this was not far from our grasp though, and we are thankful for the assistance provided by Cunninghame Housing Association’s CEO Frank Sweeney who put at our disposal the association’s regeneration officer Hugh Magee. Hugh has since worked tirelessly in making applications and setting out a funding timeline for the project.
Our planning was very ambitious, it was to get the funding in place and build the complete park, it then became clear that in the present climate this was not going to be possible and we therefore we set out plans to build the park in Phases. This page describes in detail what Phase 1 of our plans include and also how we will achieve the plan.
The land that we propose to build the community park on is classified as derelict land, which is defined as land that has become damaged by industrial or other development and beyond beneficial use without treatment. Previously the site was a railway goods yard and in its heyday was a thriving part of Ardrossan’s industry. After the depot was closed down much of the infra structure was removed but there still remains a siding which is used from time to time. this land is encased on its eastern perimeter by the railway line and by Winton Rovers Football Park on the west side.
There is at present no direct access route to the site and two access routes were proposed, they were at the end of Hill Street, running adjacent to the first row of housing at Winton Court and running through Winton Park. The other proposed access route was at the opposite side of Winton park adjoining the wall which separates the park from Winton Primary school. Any access would of course only be possible with agreement of Ardrossan Winton Rovers Football Club.
The Board of Trustees made representation to the committee of Winton Rovers and this led to a Heads of Terms agreement between both parties which agreed the terms of an access route which is planned from the end of Winton St running alongside the adjoining school wall.
The land was selected as a site for the community park as it was the largest piece of derelict land in Ardrossan. Being derelict and also being encased has meant that the price of the land would not be prohibitive for the project and Eric McMillan from the projects Architects McMillan and Cronin entered into discussion with the land owners Network Rail.
Although we still have some work to be completed in respect of phased building and Heads of Terms we have reached agreement with Network Rail on the area to be purchased and also a price.
A big stumbling block for the project was not the acquisition of land but the requirement of Network Rail for a 2.4 meter Palisade fence which would cost £200,000. We are currently in discussion with Network Rail to see if it is acceptable for this fencing to be put in place as the phased build proceeds.
The Ardrossan Railway was a railway company in Scotland built in the mid-19th century that primarily ran services between Kilwinning and Ardrossan, as well as freight services to and from collieries between Kilwinning and Perceton.
In the first years of the nineteenth century, the 12th Earl of Eglinton developed Ardrossan Harbour, intending it as a sea port for the City of Glasgow. The extensive works he had carried out cost over £100,000 at the time!
Eric continues to bring a wealth of experience in coordinating and facilitating participatory processes to engage the community, stakeholders, and local authorities in the visioning, planning and design process. Eric has produced numerous designs as the project has changed, especially with the introduction of a phased build and he will continue to advise the board of Trustees as the project develops. Not only did Eric develop the design brief but he also continues to advise in funding applications and in general has been as active as any one involved in the project and we are indebted to him for the support he has given our project.
The board of trustees set out making their own funding applications but soon found out that this project was of such a size and funding so difficult to acquire that we understood very early on that we required someone with vast experience in this area. Frank Sweeney the Chief Executive Officer of Cunninghame Housing Association was assisting the board of trustees at this point with governance and other areas and quickly identified our need. This led Mr Sweeney to offer the services of the Housing Associations regeneration lead Mr Hugh McGhee, an offer we could not and did not refuse.
Hugh is now putting his vast knowledge and experience to use and he is in discussion with various funder’s such as The Scottish Land Fund and North Ayrshire Council. These discussions have allowed Hugh to put together a list of suitable funders that we hope will support us in our vision for a community park for the residents of Ardrossan and the surrounding areas. The funding that we are seeking should have seen us looking forward to a build as early as 2021, unfortunately this now may not be possible due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Ardrossan Winton Rovers Football Club and Ardrossan Community Sports Hub are community partners and have a close relationship with each other. The football club changed its legal status early in 2019 when it became a Community Interest Company, being a limited company beforehand. This change in status is an important factor in the blossoming relationship that lays ahead for both organisations as they have similar aims and objectives which will allow us to work closely together and form a community bond which will be to the benefit of all of the inhabitants of the local area.
Ardrossan Winton Rovers committee and the Sports Hubs trustees met to discuss access to the proposed site for the new community park. It was agreed that Ardrossan Winton Rovers Football Club would provide a 25 year lease and in return the Sports Hub would in lieu of payment provide the football club with use of the facilities twice a week to allow the team to train. It was then agreed that the access would be from the Winton Street end of the ground and would run parallel to the wall which separates the ground from the primary school.
At this point it was then time to bring in the projects architect Eric McMillan. Eric produced the plan opposite and a detailed breakdown of the work involved, this included:
- A rebuild of the entrance allowing double gated access
- A communal access area surrounded by a 6.5 meter palisade fence
- Single and double gated access to the football ground
- A double gated entry to the access road
- The rebuild of the small accessible terrace, as it encroaches the new access road
- The laying of the access road leading to the wall at the east of the ground
- Breaching the east wall to allow access to the site
- Erecting a 5-meter-high palisade fence along the length of the access road to separate it from the football ground
A head of terms, or letter of intent which is a non-binding document outlining the main issues relevant to the lease was then agreed and signed by both parties.
The land we are proposing to build the community park on has been in the ownership of a railway company since the 19th century with the original owners being the Ardrossan and Johnstone Railway. The present owners are Network Rail, the company owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks, signals, overhead wires, tunnels, bridges, level crossings, most stations, and surrounding land on Britain’s railway.
If you look at the two photographs taken in 1936 and 1947 you will see the site of the community park just above the Winton Rovers ground, notice that the Winton Rovers pitch has been turned. It faced east to west in the 1936 photograph and in the 1947 photograph it faces in its present position north to south, this may have had something to do with the ground being used by the military during the second world war.
We started the process of buying the land from Network Rail in 2018, when dealing with a National company there size it can be difficult to get a decision made as there are so many different departments who need to be involved in the decision making process, we were soon to find out just how difficult.
But eventually we did manage to get things rolling and the District Valuer was commissioned and came back with a figure of £15,000 plus VAT. With the figure agreed we could then complete the funding application to the Scottish Land Fund which was sitting waiting to be dispatched. Unfortunately this application proved unsuccessful as the SLF thought that the overall cost of the project was not something they could commit to at that point, this was without a doubt a low point for the organisation.
But it had allowed us to conclude discussions with Network Rail on both parties intent going forward and this allowed for Heads of Terms with Network Rail to be put in place.
With purchasing of the land now agreed in principal and a cost set the Charity was confronted with a major challenge as set out in the Heads of Terms by Network Rail…. the insistence of a 2.m meter Palisade fence around the perimeter, the cost of this fencing was estimated at £95,000. Yet another challenge for everyone involved in the project and a challenge which we have not laid down to.
We had also previously concluded Heads of Terms with Ardrossan Winton Rovers Football Club. in essence this meant that we had an agreement with all interested parties covering the major points for the purchase of the land, it also allowed for a more precise costings to be carried out by a Quantity surveyor.
The board of Trustees having agreement in place with other interested parties has now charged Hugh Magee Cunninghame Housing Associations regeneration officer and the charities lead in fundraising to forge ahead with funding applications and this includes funding not only to purchase the land but also funding for the completion of phase 1 of the project.
You will notice the siding that enters the triangle of land which we wish to purchase, Network Rail insist on keeping this as it is an important part of the railway infrastructure. this has an impact on the amount of land we have at our disposal but in no way inhibits us from fully completing our plans for the site.
McMillan and Cronin of Largs are the projects architects, and partner Eric McMillan has produced many plans as his brief has changed.
The Charity has carried out many public consultations involving the children of the local schools, a the local Winton Rovers fete and at various public meetings throughout the town, these consultations have informed the planning and design stage. Although it is only fair to say at this stage that unfortunately as requested from one of the children at Winton Primary School we will not be able to have a Helipad and helicopter.
Within the community park the members of the public requested a green gym, running track, astro pitch for football, rugby, netball and changing facilities, the astro pitch would also be a place for the local school to use at play time in place of the concrete playground they currently use. You also asked for a general exercise area for yoga and Tai Chi along with a climbing frame and also a play area where young children could play in safety.
Plan number 1 shows the agreed access route to the site which runs parallel to the wall which separates Winton Park from Winton Primary School. You can find out more about the access route here.
Plan Number 2 shows the master plan with all of the facilities as requested in the consultation. You will notice the broken line going around the facilities, this is the running track, use your imagination a little to see how this could be extended to go around the perimeter of the grass pitch the Rovers play on. The running track can also double as a cycle track particularly for the disabled bicycler’s in our community.
The master plan shows the completed community park as planned at this stage, it includes:
- a 9 a side astro pitch with floodlights with changing facilities
- a green gym going around the perimeter
- an exercise area for individual and group activities
- a Community Training Centre
- a car park
- an adventure area
The park will be built in phases and the conceptual master plan will of course change as further consultation takes place, it is important to remember this is the community’s park and you, the community will make the decisions for your community park. This still leaves space for us to further develop the park.
At this point we are in the process of submitting applications to various bodies for funding to be in place by the years end to allow us to complete phase 1 of the development. We have submitted an application to the Scottish Land Fund to provide funding for the Sports Hub to purchase the land to the east of Winton Football Park, currently owned by Network Rail.
In line with our business plan we aim to build a community park which will focus on amenities which promote physical and emotional well being and will be fully accessible to all members of the community.
Our public consultation process resulted in the community asking for outdoor sports and facilities activities, the public asked that we include a green gym & trim track, Multi Use Games Area, cycle track, outdoor fitness training area, play/garden area and community gym and changing facilities.
We will create access to a Community Gym where every member of the community will be offered a ‘health check’ and fitness program, with a view to establishing a purpose-built gym at the new park in the medium term. Other ideas for the park use are a sensory garden, cinema drive in, climbing frame, wild land walkway a man shed and many other ideas.
We have plans to access our local coastline and organise beach and water activities/sports for all ages and abilities, working with other local organisations. Local people currently have no access to the marina and other water sports on their doorstep. We will work with Sportscotland, Ardrossan Scouts, Ardrossan Sea Cadets, The Boys Brigade, The Brownies, local schools and churches and other groups local and further afield such as the Cumbrae Outdoor Centre who will guide us and help us provide activities and achieve change.
We will also engage with the John Muir Trust and use the Awards process of challenges to design ‘Wild Challenges’ for children and ‘Without Walls’ which aims to build resilience and self-confidence, helping participants into volunteering and work, whilst promoting connection to the local natural environment.
We will provide transport and tickets to sports facilities & events to make sporting activities more accessible and visible.
We will engage with the Three Towns Growers to ensure an educational, welcoming and generally beneficial Public Park which will have foliage,trees and vegetation which are edible and of course good foods.
We will make use of all existing local facilities (e.g. Ardrossan Civic Centre) to introduce new sports and work with existing groups such as the athletics club and the Accies rugby club.