CONCERNS have been raised about the visual impact of a Coldstream Football Club plan to make changes to Home Park.
The club needs to erect a solid two-metre fence round two sides of the top pitch and create a sheltered area for 100 spectators by 2015 in order to comply with new criteria imposed by the Scottish Football Association on full member clubs.
While officials are confident they will be able to meet the vast majority of the 80 requirements, they say ten of them will be difficult and involve major physical changes to facilities.
Football club committee members revealed at a public meeting that new regulations about showering facilities mean the pavilion would be unable to host teams for two matches at the same time.
They admit that would mean finding alternative accommodation for Coldstream Amateurs, who currently use the bottom pitch on a Saturday. The pavilion currently has two shower blocks shared between four dressing rooms, but the new regulations demand that both home and visiting teams are provided with their own showers.
But it was concerns over plans for a solid 2m perimeter fence, a pitch fence and possibly a grandstand that prompted most questions.
Gerald Tait, the football club committee member leading the project, explained that while the erection of a perimeter fence and a pitch fence are stipulations that would have to be met, there is potentially more “room for manoeuvre” over the need for a sheltered area for spectators.
He said building a small grandstand behind the goal next to the pavilion was one option, but that the SFA may allow canopies to be put up on the pavilion to cover the concreted area below.
One resident raised concerns at the meeting that a 2m fence, on top of the 2m banking would create a 4m visual barrier.
However, club treasurer John Elliott replied: “That would only be the case for somebody standing at the south side of the park near the war memorial and looking north.
“The grass banking is already there. Very few people stand at the bottom of the park and admire the view to the north. The view from the top pitch at the pavilion end of the park would only be affected by the fence if you were to stand right next to it. Anyone standing on the top pitch looking to the south to admire the view would be looking higher up – over the height of the fence.”
Asked about the potential for the fence to be vandalised, club chairman Steve Wright said: “Vandalism can happen anywhere. We cannot be responsible for everything that happens in the park and we would be unable to keep an eye on the fence 24 hours a day. But we would work with the police and the local community to minimise the risk of that happened as much as possible.”
Mr Elliot said access to the path along the old school wall would remain open for members of the public at all times, except for two to three hours during a Scottish Cup tie every two or three years.
“We would let anyone through if they are not going to the match,” he said. “But if they’re there to watch the game, they would be asked to pay. The only time access along the path would only be closed would be during a Scottish Cup tie. That is when we would have to have an enclosed football ground.”
But he said it be would the club’s intention to charge a £3 or £4 entry fee to those entering the park to watch a match.
“At the moment we go round with a collection tin and ask for donations on a Saturday,” he said. “But most other clubs in our league charge a small entry fee, so it would be our intention to do the same.”
Martin Brimms, chairman of Coldstream Community Council, asked the club to provide an artist’s impression of the proposals so that the community would have a chance to visualise the proposed changes.
He said: “I think the view of the public might be that the grandstand would be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The fence would be the lesser of the two evils.
“From the general public’s point of view, the key element before expressing a judgment would be an opportunity to see a visual illustration of what it would look like.”
Mr Brimms also asked: “What guarantees do we have that the SFA won’t come back in another few years and make further requirements?”
Mr Wright replied: “We can’t say for sure. However, we have had regular meetings with the SFA and they have helped us downsize our action plan. They have indicated that they would like smaller club like ours to retain full membership.”
The club is aiming to submit planning application by end of the year and would intend to carry out the work between May and June of 2013 or 2014.
Club officials warn that failure to comply with the SFA criteria would mean losing full membership status, costing the club at least £7,000 a year in funding and prevent the team from participating in the prestigious Scottish Cup.