Mount Florida Community Trust vows ‘to keep fighting to save bowling green’

A COMMUNITY group in Glasgow’s Southside said it will ‘keep fighting to save the local bowling green’ from a residential development.

Last month, Glasgow-based developer NOAH, which owns the Mount Florida Bowling Club, put forward an offer for local community groups to own around half of the site.

It came amid an ongoing row involving resident groups, including the Mount Florida Community Trust, which has been campaigning to preserve the whole green space.

Now, the trust has rejected the offer and vowed to keep “fighting” to retain the site for the benefit of residents.

Nicola Smith, one of the trust’s directors, said: “We put a poll to our members, asking them whether we should continue to campaign to try and save the whole green space, or accept this suggested idea from the developer, which would basically guarantee them destroying half the green space.

“We were very clear that this is an uphill battle, but the majority of those who voted said no.

“We are trying to preserve the option of a greener future.

“If we agreed to work with NOAH now, that would be the definitive end of that green option, and that’s not where our community feeling seems to sit at the moment.

“They want to at least keep fighting for a green option, and we will.”

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The Mount Florida Bowling Club has been closed since it shut in October 2019, after 110 years, due to reduced membership.

NOAH purchased the site last December, after its first proposal was rejected by the community.

The firm has since put amended plans to the residents, which, until the new proposition, included leasing the community facility at a peppercorn rent and a financial contribution of £250,000 for a community group to refurbish the clubhouse.

The trust polled 116 members who were eligible to vote. Around 40% of them took part in the poll, with 72% rejecting the developer’s offer.

NOAH had offered an open space with the existing clubhouse upgraded, or an open space with the clubhouse removed and a £150,000 donation.

Both alternatives would have seen a local group receive around 50% of the current site at no cost.

Glasgow Times:

However, the trust argued that the community is still not being offered a third option: preserving the full green, thus claiming any consultation would not reveal the true will of the community.

NOAH said it respected the decision, although it challenged the trust’s poll of only 47 people, of which 34 agreed to continue the campaign, saying it was “disappointed” after its “generous” offer.

A spokesperson said: “Given that the aim of the trust is to retain the site for the benefit of the community, it is difficult to see how this can be based on the views of such a sample, since the Mount Florida Community Council area has a population of around 10,000 (2011 census).

“Our consultation did not include an option of retaining the entire space as our proposal aims to offer an equal or better replacement facility to an enhanced level and quality within the new development.”

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The developer added its proposal meets the Glasgow City Open Space Strategy, by providing a “significant” 0.3 hectare of pubic open space, together with the proposed retention of the clubhouse as a community facility.

The trust pointed out its poll was only a “steering snapshot” to establish the direction of the group, and it now plans to resume a petition – which previously received 1100 signatures to retain the green – to gauge consensus for a community ownership route.

Ms Smith added: “We are not claiming to answer for every person in Mount Florida, we are answering for the people who are members of the trust.

“We know we are just a group of community residents who have the long-term, best interest of our community at heart because once that green space goes, it never ever comes back.”

According to Scottish Government figures, as of 2020, the population of Mount Florida was 4443.

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