Community meeting to discuss development

A COMMUNITY meeting was held in St John’s Church in Forfar on Tuesday night, with the focus being community development” and in particular the use of public buildings and space for community activity.

There was an excellent turnout with around 20 community organisations represented as well as elected members and a number of Angus Council officers.

The meeting was chaired by Angus councillor Lynne Devine who welcomed the high level of interest on what was a poor night in terms of weather. She was and pleased with the number of different points and ideas that were raised.

There was a wide ranging discussion which started with Neil Mackenzie from Angus Council’s property services, outlining what the council is doing in Forfar in terms of moving staff in order to allow the council to reduce the number of buildings it currently occupies.

Graham Hewitson from the Community Learning and Development Service and Melvyn Lynch, rector of Forfar Academy, provided a brief update on progress with the planned Community Campus for Forfar.

The Community Campus will include replacement for the educational facilities currently on the Forfar Academy site and Leisure facilities which are located elsewhere in the town.

There has already been a significant amount of engagement with the community about this project and this will continue over the coming weeks and months.

Colin Smith, a private consultant working on behalf of St Margaret’s Church, explained the church’s proposal for redeveloping the current site to include a new place of worship and additional space for social and community activity.

Colin pointed out that he is currently organising a series of focus groups with community groups in Forfar to get a better understanding of what is needed and what might be offered at St Margaret’s.

The idea of a community sports hub was outlined by Jordann Cunningham from the council’s Leisure Services section.

The plan is to encourage and support local sports clubs to work more closely in order to share ideas and resources and the discussion in Forfar is at a very early stage.

Representatives of community groups made a number of points and had a number of interesting ideas for the future of the town. The main point of agreement was that there are a number of exciting proposals in Forfar just now and the best thing that community groups could do was to provide information on the premises that they currently use and what they may need in the future.

Those in attendance believed that this information would help inform all of the proposals that are currently being looked at in Forfar.

A small working group has agreed to undertake further work with local community based groups to gather information on their needs and aspirations and use this to help inform some of the planned developments and identify any further needs and opportunities, including opportunities for groups to work together for their mutual benefit.

This discussion on community development in Forfar is the first of a series of three discussions which will take place in the town over the next few weeks.

The next meeting will focus on marketing Forfar as a visitor attraction and is taking place on Tuesday, April 16.

This meeting will be chaired by Angus councillor Ian McLaren and there will representation from Angus Council’s Economic Development and Cultural Services teams, as well as Visit Scotland, the national tourism agency.

The third discussion will take place on Wednesday, April 24, and will focus on Forfar town centre.

This meeting will be chaired by Councillor Glennis Middleton and will involve staff from Angus Council’s Planning and Parks departments, as well as representatives from Scotland’s Towns Partnership, which is a national body specialising in supporting communities to revitalise town centres.

Both of these meetings are set to take place at 6.30 p.m. in St John’s Church hall.

For more information on any of these points, please contact Lee Haxton on 01307 474788 or haxtonl@angus.gov.uk