A Glasgow City Council committee today gave its approval to the off-market letting of Stepford Sports Park in the city to FARE Scotland Limited, with formal discussions and negotiations on the matter to begin.
The facility - on the city's Edinburgh Road - is currently leased to Glasgow Life. FARE, a social enterprise based in Easterhouse who aim to help meet the social, economic and physical needs of communities, is currently operating Stepford Sports Park in conjunction with Glasgow Life, and now wish to take sole control under a new long-term lease to allow them to redevelop the facility having secured the necessary funding.
At the committee, approval was also given to the renunciation of the lease (due to expire in 2032) to Glasgow Life - subject to the letting to FARE proceeding.
Stepford Sports Park is 7.54 acres in size and currently features one 3G full size football pitch, two full size grass football pitches, showers and changing rooms and space for approximately 50 car parking spaces.
Due to the impact of the current pandemic, Glasgow Life were unable to keep the facility open, and so worked with FARE to develop a Community Activation Pilot Licence to reopen with an operational model which maximised the resources available, minimised operational costs, whilst providing football facility access to local communities. This licence was for a six months period ending 23 May 2021, thereafter continuing as a rolling month-to-month agreement.
Through the People Make Glasgow Communities programme, this community pilot project was viewed as one which met the principles and outcomes of the programme. The pilot sees a minimal number of Glasgow Life staff supplemented by FARE's key representatives/staff to oversee the agreed venue opening hours and the current programme of activity at the venue, and has provided an opportunity to share resources, build relationships, and look at other operating models following the trial period.
FARE has identified that the facility would benefit from a £2million investment programme, and propose that the two grass pitches there (which are underused) be replaced by one full size 3G synthetic football pitch and four 5-a-side football pitches with appropriate fencing and floodlighting. This work would also allow enable FARE to create additional on-site car parking space to meet peak-time demand for parking.
The social enterprise has now completed a business plan with the support of the Scottish Government's Just Enterprise programme via CEIS, and were recently informed of their success in securing £1.6million in funding from Social Investment Scotland for the first phase of the redevelopment, to be drawn down by the end of June. A minimum lease of 25 years has been requested by FARE in order to secure this funding.
FARE has also begun discussions with The National Lottery on potential funding of the second phase of the project, which would not only lead to a redeveloped facility, but also provide a base for them to carry out and build on the other community work they deliver in the city.