​CHANGING rooms in Cowan Park will be revamped and leased to a youth football club to address an “unfulfilled commitment” made by East Renfrewshire Council.

The local authority has been working with Barrhead Youth Football Club to find a solution to a long-running issue.

Initial plans to provide changing rooms on land previously used for the Johnnie Kelly Pavilion were thwarted.

That eventually led to three options being put to the council’s cabinet to fulfil its agreement: a “bespoke” new-build costing around £730,000; a basic new-build at £520,000; or refurbishing and leasing the existing sevens pavilion and leasing the park’s 4G pitch to the Barrhead club at an estimated cost of around £300,000.

The third option, which had been recommended for approval, was agreed.

It means a 25-year lease, at £1 per year, will be arranged with the football club, which will take over the maintenance, for the pavilion and 4G pitch.

The current artificial pitch and changing facilities used by the club will be transferred to the council.

A new meeting room will be created in the pavilion, as well as disabled toilets and disabled access.

Barrhead High pupils will have access to the pitches during school hours from Monday to Friday.

Back in 2012, the council approved a financial contribution towards the creation of a 3G pitch and changing facilities in Cowan Park, to be managed by Barrhead Youth Football Club.

Councillors agreed to provide ground at a notional rent to allow the 3G pitch to be built. They also agreed to allow the lease, or licence to occupy, of the Johnnie Kelly Pavilion to the football club for changing rooms on the completion of the replacement Barrhead High School.

But, in 2014, the authority decided to relocate the replacement school after a Court of Session ruling on common goods issues which halted the original plan.
The new site was on land used by the Johnnie Kelly Pavilion, which needed to be demolished.

The council was therefore unable to fulfil its commitment to provide changing rooms at the old site.

Footballers have since used the changing rooms within the existing sevens pavilion and their own portable cabins.

“There has therefore been an unfulfilled commitment for some time now for the council to provide Barrhead Youth Football Club with permanent and more suitable changing facilities within Cowan Park,” a report to councillors stated.

“Given the overall situation, this is considered to be a sensible approach to offset the lack of funding available to build Barrhead Youth Football Club brand new changing facilities while at the same time providing best value for the council.”

Since 2017, a total of £300,000 has been available to provide changing rooms. The 4G pitch was funded and is currently maintained by the council when Barrhead High School was rebuilt.

A new Johnnie Kelly Pavilion, with eight changing rooms, was also built near to the council’s four grass pitches and the 3G pitch. It is managed by the council for organised football pitch lets.

The council will apply to the Sheriff Court for the removal of Common Good land at the sevens pavilion and replace it with equivalent-sized Common Good ground elsewhere in the park.