Takeover bid goes to extra time
Blantyre Soccer Academy were dealt a blow last week after plans for their takeover of the former Rowans Hall were halted.
At a meeting of South Lanarkshire Council’s housing and technical resources committee on October 31 councillors could not agree on the terms of the £1 sale of the hall and surrounding land at Birch Place.
The property had been earmarked by the academy as their potential new premises back in August 2017.
Academy chairman Jimmy Whelan was disappointed with the hold-up and told the Advertiser: “It is with deep regret that I had to inform those within Blantyre Soccer Academy and indeed the wider community that our quest to gain a community asset transfer of Rowan Hall has been deferred once more for reasons outwith our control.
“This is a huge blow to us as we thought we were moving forward but yet again the powers that be have put the blockers on it.
“Bearing in mind that this hall has lain dormant for the last four years, perplexed and bewildered is an understatement.”
Although officials were keen to give the move the nod, during the meeting concerns were raised by councillors that the proposal failed to include any safeguards to ensure the asset stays in community use in the long term.
The academy’s proposal to relocate from their current unit on Calder Street, Blantyre, would see them diversify the range of services they deliver by using the facility as a community hub.
Their business plan identified around £70,000 expenditure on immediate repairs as well as £50,000 for an extension to the building.
In addition, a Climate Challenge Fund application prepared.
If successful that would also see the development of a community garden and kitchen, a cycle shed, drop-in centre and computer and cooking classes.
The plan had been backed by Councillor Maureen Chalmers and SNP MSP Clare Haughey, both of whom were dismayed with the outcome of last week’s meeting.
The MSP said: “I am deeply disappointed that a decision has been delayed at committee stage. has been
“Blantyre Soccer Academy are a tremendous local organisation and their plans to take ownership of a dilapidated building should have full support of elected representatives of all colours.
“Once transferred, not only will the community gain a great local asset. It will also save the council around £4000 per year on maintenance costs.
“This is a win-win situation for the Blantyre community and South Lanarkshire Council so for me the asset transfer must go ahead without undue delay.”
South Lanarkshire Council’s executive director of housing and technical resources Daniel Lowe said: “The committee have requested additional information in respect of the community asset transfer process before reaching a decision on this matter.”
Halted The academy earmarked the former Rowans Hall as their new premises. Right: One of the academy’s older team. Below right: The girls’ squads.