NOTEBOOK by Bill Heaney

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie has put the boot in to Dumbarton Football Club’s request for planning permission to construct housing in the car park of the stadium at the Rock.

The decision would almost certainly result in the final whistle for the Sons who have been living with the football equivalent of the Sword of Damocles hanging over them since they were years ago pushed out of Boghead.

This most recent application makes it a hat-trick of shots at sending Dumbarton into the doldrums and leaving the team languishing in the lowest league in Scottish football.

Even in their current state with the Norwegians in charge of finances they have begun to call themselves a “semi professional” football club, which is a disgrace.

The Council have been of little assistance in saving the club and, together with Scottish Enterprise they have been about as useful as a chocolate watch.

This is a blow to the club’s proud history as one of the founders of the beautiful game in Scotland with wins in the Scottish Cup and Coronation Quaich part of it.

Dame Jackie has written to Sons’ directors in the following terms: “I am writing to submit an objection to the above planning application.

“I understand that there have been two previous planning applications to construct housing on the land to the North of Dumbarton Football Club’s stadium, the more substantial of which was conditional on the relocation of the club to the site at Young’s Farm at Dalmoak.

Club with a proud history – Dumbarton FC should be helped by the Council to find a new home and if possible new owners. Fans want to bring first class football back in the town.

“As you are aware Dumbarton Football Club is the largest Football stadium in the area with a capacity of 2,020. The stadium has been used by the Scotland International team for training and by Celtic for their UEFA Youth League home games. It is also used as a venue for weddings, conferences and other social events.

“The original planning application for residential property alongside the football club was granted subject to a condition that tied both the residential development and the drainage and road connection permissions together.

“Despite this the current application is only to renew the original housing development and I am concerned that this does not look at the impact of the traffic that will be generated in this area.

“The proposal for a housing development on a high risk flood plain is also concerning as many of the homeowners will find it difficult to insure these properties, an issue that has already arisen in estates around the area that are at less of a flood risk than the site of this proposal.

“The planning context has changed since the original application was lodged and I believe that this renewed application does not meet the policy ambitions set out in the National Planning framework 4 – to ensure good quality homes are at the heart of great places and contribute to strengthening the health and well-being of communities.

“It also notes that the provision of land in the right location to accommodate future need and demand for new homes, should be supported by the appropriate infrastructure.

“I am concerned that if this housing development is approved it will have a detrimental impact on Dumbarton Football Club and its ability to accommodate visitors and supporters especially on match days.

“The road is shared with visitors to Dumbarton Castle and they are in talks with the Club to look at an arrangement for sharing their parking facilities especially when they hold heritage and cultural days such as the Rock of Ages, which can attract a significant number of visitors.

“The Club has aspirations to play in top tier football again in the near future and they cannot afford to lose such a large proportion of their car park.

“This will also have the additional impact of reducing the revenue that the club is able to bring in and will restrict their ambitions to become a full time Championship club.

“Overall the increased volume of traffic to the area, the loss of car parking and the restrictions to other activities on the site, make the application problematic and I would hope that the proposal is rejected.

“I would be grateful if you would take these matters into consideration when you determine this application.”

The Dumbarton directors may feel they are on their way to scoring a victory with this application, but it is likely to end up with the equivalent of landing in the VAR world of a lengthy consultation process and, hopefully, a red card.

Just to make things clear, The Democrat is totally opposed to the football club’s application for planning permission.

We think the Norwegian owners should be chased out of Dumbarton and negotiations for a takeover should begin, hopefully with Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Juniors, and with a party that has no agenda other than to create a space for a new stadium.

Let’s face it, what has been happening at Dumbarton FC over a long number of years has been all about money and very little to do with sport or providing leisure and recreation for local people.


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