State-of-the-art base for women’s football set to go ahead after Highland Council agreed a community asset transfer of unused playing fields next to Inverness Royal Academy to Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust on a 25-year lease agreement

The fields and Inverness Royal Academy which will become a hub for women’s football in the city.

Highland Council has agreed to lease eight acres of disused playing fields beside Inverness Royal Academy to Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust.

The Trust will work with the club and the Scottish Football Association and SportScotland to develop the fields into a state-of-the-art base for the women’s team as well as others.

The Trust’s plans were first tabled in March where proposals included a literally “game-changing” investment of between £1 and £2 million in a mecca for women’s and community football in the Highlands.

The move was decided behind closed doors at a full meeting of Highland Council last evening and will see the Trust pay a nominal sum – usually £1 – a year for the 25 year lease.

The local authority accepted that it would lose the estimated rent of the site of £25,000 a year but recognized there is “no plausible demand” for it if it was offered on the open market.

The leader of Highland Council, Raymond Bremner, said: “We welcome the community asset transfer to Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Development Trust as it offers an opportunity to improve and develop the playing field and facilities that will benefit both Inverness Royal Academy pupils and the wider community.

“The proposal includes development of apprenticeships, training and support opportunities for disadvantaged young people and clearly demonstrates the benefits associated with community transfer. It aligns with both Council and community priorities for regeneration, health and well-being in the local area.”

While economy and infrastructure committee chairman, Cllr Ken Gowans added: “The Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Development Trust proposed plans include working in partnership with Scottish Football Association, SportScotland, Inverness Caledonian Football Club and other funding bodies to make positive use of land that requires investment and enable the pitches to be used once again for sports and diversionary activities.

“The proposed development could offer the opportunity to develop modern fit for purpose sporting facilities, reducing barriers to allow more people to benefit from sport by either taking part or supporting through community participation.”

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