Fears that Moray Council was about to go back on a pledge to restore much needed sports pitches at Deanshaugh Playing Fields in Elgin have been allayed.
The local authority moved to reassure residents that the area was not being turned into a car park – although part of the site would see a new parking facility being created alongside new recreation facilities.
Following reports that retrospective planning permission was being sought to make a temporary car park created on the site permanent, a Council spokesman released a statement making it clear that did not mean the loss of recreational facilities.
A spokesman said: “There were previously four pitches at Deanshaugh and what is now being proposed is the provision of three full-sized pitches and a training pitch.
“The training pitch will help prevent wear and tear on the full-sized pitches. The lack of formal parking arrangements caused problems in previous years, particularly for those living in nearby residential streets, and the provision of off-street parking is an integral part of the overall development.
“For the past several years footballers in Elgin have had use of only four public pitches. With the development at Deanshaugh that it set to almost double.”
However, local community councillors insisted that their initial concerns were based on adequate space existing to create both the pitches and car parking area.
A spokesman for Elgin Community Council said: “We are not at all against having parking at Deanshaugh Playing Fields. What we are saying is – there is adequate space at the other end of the area which, with some work, could be used for parking.
“That’s also the end where the services are situated which is therefore the most likely place for new changing facilities to be built.
“Had the resources used to create the raised area, that is now looking for retrospective planning permission, been used at the opposite end we would have fully supported that. No desperately needed pitches would then have been lost.”
The community council also dismissed claims by the local authority that there had been previous complaints about parking in nearby streets, insisting that they had never head of any such complaints before now.
The spokesman said: “Those residents close to the playing fields that we spoke to recently never complained about parking – quite the opposite actually.
“How many cars does the spokesperson think ever parked in the area? Tens? Hundreds? Has the person ever been there when football was being played?”