With the nation currently hooked on Wimbledon, it’s a fitting time for Garioch Sports Centre to unveil its new tennis-focused proposals.
Inverurie Community Council has submitted fresh expansion plans to Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of Garioch Sports Holdings.
Full planning permission was secured last year for a major extension of the Inverurie facility, but changes in the community’s requirements and pressures on funding have prompted a reduced development.
Initially the plans would have seen the Burghmuir Drive centre expanding into one of the largest amenities of its kind in Scotland, incorporating tennis courts, a multi-sports arena, fitness suites and an all-weather 3G pitch for Inverurie Loco Works FC which has now been dropped.
But while the scale of the expansion might not be as ambitious, the new plans do reveal tennis courts and improvements for fitness along with an Early Learning Centre for younger children.
Thanks to significant input from Judy Murray – mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie – the plans feature three dedicated tennis courts and the centre has committed to a three-year partnership with the JM Foundation, highlighting the commitment of the centre to develop the sport across Garioch.
The centre and JM Foundation will work in partnership in upskilling their workforce and identifying potential coaches while funding coach education.
In a supporting statement the centre writes: “The matter of securing the appropriate funding for the various options which have been considered over the last couple of years has impacted upon how the plans have altered with the focus very much now being on the new tennis provision.
“The most recent plans reflect the discussions with the Lawn Tennis Association and also Tennis Scotland.
“The advice and guidance of Judy Murray has also been pivotal in how the plans particularly for the tennis courts have progressed.”
The applicants also believe that despite the downturn in oil and gas and other industries, there is still a demand for its facilities.
It reports: “As many of the activities and programmes now carry waiting lists, there is proof that despite a downturn in many industries the timing is now right to expand in tandem with the growth in participation and the increase in the town and rural residency.
“An expansion of the present facility and delivery of its sporting, health and wellbeing activities has many positive additions as the market town itself strives to increase its provision to its residents.”
The new facility, the statement continues, can impact on a number of key priority outcomes which are currently being rolled out by Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Executive with a definite potential for increased economic benefits which will impact favourably on local businesses.”
Opened in December 1996, Garioch Sports Centre is now one of the leading leisure centres in the North-east of Scotland.
It boasts a wide range of indoor facilities including a four court games hall, two state-of-the-art squash courts and gym facilities, designated exercise studio, dance studio, community hall and conference room.
Outdoor facilities include a full size FIFA-approved artificial grass football pitch, home to over 30 teams, a 150m floodlit running track and five full size 11-a-side pitches.
Earlier this year the centre objected to the creation of a privately-run gym in the town, warning of the detrimental effect it could have on its own users.
Centre co-manager Kevin Bonarius said: “Granting approval for this development could affect the future viability of the GSC and place it under further pressure.”