11 April 2023

Stonehaven participatory budgeting projects progressing

Works to improve and expand the capacity of Stonehaven Leisure Centre are expected to begin in early summer. 

It follows a ‘Voice Your Choice’ participatory budgeting exercise undertaken by Live Life Aberdeenshire (LLA) last year which will see improvements made to sports and leisure provision in the town.  

The process was led by LLA supported by a reference group including representatives of sports groups, Stonehaven and District Community Council, Aberdeenshire Council and the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership. 

The initial part of the process encouraged ideas to be submitted, with more than 100 suggestions being submitted, with follow-up workshops held with a range of sports clubs who are members of the Stonehaven Community Sports Hub to look at the ideas that were submitted, as well as exploring opportunities for increased collaboration between the clubs. 

In all, 1,753 votes were cast accounting for 15.7% of the Stonehaven population which the Scottish Government hailed as an excellent community response. The three options supported were an upgrade to the gym, fitness, dance areas and changing at the leisure centre, funding to support additional multi-use space within Stonehaven Recreation Grounds and funding to support a covered tennis facility at Stonehaven Recreation Grounds. 

The Stonehaven Leisure Centre proposal includes: 

  • A new dance/fitness studio area incorporating a new sound system, lighting and a suite of spin bikes to expand the group exercise programme capacity. This will realise additional capacity in the main sports hall that can be offered to sports clubs and groups or be utilised to further expand the centre’s programme 

  • A new gym space fully kitted-out with the latest exercise equipment, improving the experience for existing service users and attracting new participants 

  • Upgraded lighting in the pool area 

  • A PAMIS changing space to enhance the provision within the Queen Elizabeth Park area for people with special needs and disabilities 

LLA will soon be engaging with service users and advising the public of a short-term closure of the leisure centre to enable works to be completed.  

Options will also be presented to parents/carers for swimming lesson delivery at other pools and also to the community for delivery of exercise classes at alternative locations in Stonehaven.  

Meanwhile, officers are currently in discussion with the local tennis club and trustees to find a way forward to deliver undercover tennis provision within the Stonehaven Recreation Grounds (SRG). The option presented and voted on by the public was for a £1.2million 3-court permanent structure with part funding of £250,000 from PB and the remaining funding coming from the Lawn Tennis Association and Scottish Lawn Tennis Association.  

The tennis club has indicated a change to its original submission and now wishes to proceed with a project to deliver a 2-court, temporary structure, which would be removed for part of the year.  

The supported option for development of outside space at Stonehaven Recreation Grounds is also progressing. The Recreation Ground Trustees have indicated that a multi-use games area is better value than the outdoor exercise equipment initially proposed and will actually increase capacity in the area and keep the project within the available budget.  

Live Life Aberdeenshire has agreed to this change in scope and planning permission is now in place. 

Avril Nicol, Head of Live Life Aberdeenshire, said: “Voice Your Choice provided the people of Stonehaven with a very clear and democratic way to get involved in a local decision-making process and we were delighted so many of you supported the initiative. 

“While three options were supported, the wider process has also highlighted just how much excellent work our community groups and leisure organisations continue to do in the town to meet local needs, providing a host of activities for people of all ages and abilities. 

“It’s tremendous to see your projects progressing - albeit at different speeds - and I would like to thank the people and the groups involved for their continued drive and determination to deliver these proposals which will bring real benefits to the Stonehaven community. 

“From an LLA perspective, we anticipate submission of tenders for the leisure centre extension in the coming weeks, hopefully with works commencing in the summer.”