Newtown Park Association (NPA) have taken another huge step forward in their bid to establish a £3m community hub at Newtown Park.

The NPA have finally submitted their planning application to Falkirk Council, hoping that they will get the green light to move forward with their ambitious proposals. 

It was back in 2018 that the NPA started to pull together the brief for the hub and set the ball rolling with the initial surveys, consultations, reports and advice. However, Covid slowed down the process with the delays only adding to the overall cost of the project. 

Earlier this year the NPA applied to the Community Choices Capital Grant Fund for the sum of £44671, the sum needed to cover the cost of presenting the architectural drawings to Falkirk Council for planning consent. 

The NPA were successful in their grant bid thanks to the support of the public of Bo’ness who were asked to vote for the community project they deemed most worthy.

Following on from taking Newtown Park into community ownership from Falkirk Council, the NPA are looking to expand on the existing facilities — with its recently upgraded 3G pitch — to grow their community beyond sport and create inclusive and flexible spaces for all people and all ages in the wider Bo’ness community. 

Robert Snedden, chairman of the NPA, said: “The modernisation of Newtown Park has proved to be a huge success and the ground is being utilised seven days a week by all ages from age six years through to senior adults, both male and female. 

“Following on from this success, the NPA now wish to proceed with phase two of the project which is the creation of a community hub within the stadium grounds.

“NPA are now fully focused and committed to delivering the hub. 

“It will serve an area of the the town which currently has no facilities that cater for the needs of the community in the densely populated areas of Newtown, Maiden Park, and Deanfield as well as the new residential areas being created at the southern extremities of the town.”

He added: “At a time when the population of Bo'ness continues to grow, and with several new housing developments in progress as well as others others in the pipeline, and with Falkirk Council seeking to reduce recreational facilities, it is more crucial than ever that the Community Hub at Newtown Park goes ahead.”

NPA’s vision is to provide an inclusive destination that offers facilities and services that will improve its community and enhance the lives of the people who live in Bo'ness. 

Newtown Park Stadium has a fantastic history and by transforming it into a community resource, the NPA are aiming to ensure that its future will continue this legacy. 

The site for development is within the boundary of Newtown Park Stadium, re-purposing a narrow strip to the west of the site for the use of the community. 

The proposal is in close proximity to Kinneil Primary School and — having reached out to the Parent Council and acting head teacher — the NPA are keen to form a partnership moving forward. 

The proposed hub can be broken down into three key elements: the public square, community spaces, and shared spaces. 

The public square on Jamieson Avenue will support both the hub and school, and offer a place to gather for parents and children, which could ease the busy school drop-off /pick up times. 

The community element comprises a multi-function hall, flexible spaces, and cafe, while the shared spaces centre around supporting the pitch with changing facilities for professional and amateur players and are accessed directly from the pitch side. 

To engage with the wider community, NPA hosted a consultation event in February. 

The event was attended by local residents, and representatives from Kinneil Primary School, Bo’ness United Football Club, and Bo’ness Rugby Club. 

Attendees completed surveys about facilities in Bo’ness and the proposed hub, and offered suggestions of what they would like to see. 

Discussions with school staff centred around how they use the green space adjacent to the proposal, and concerns about overlooking when both are in use. 

Many felt frustrated by the closure of the Recreation Centre and were concerned about the limited community space in Bo’ness, issues which the establishment of a hub would help to address. 

Should the planning application be successful, the NPA will seek the estimated £3m needed to complete the project from a variety of funders.

The timescale for completion of the hub is dependent upon having all consents and getting the funding, and is estimated to be between 12-24 months. The actual construction process from start to handover is programmed to be between 12-18 months.