PLANS for a new playpark at a controversial site in Peebles, previously mooted for a 3G pitch, has sparked a bitter war of words in the town.

Visuals for the new state-of-the-art facilities to include play equipment, a football pitch and skate park in Victoria Park were unveiled on social media last week.

An online debate ensued, many locals welcomed the proposals but it also evoked anger among 3G pitch supporters, who felt robbed of the all-weather facility after plans were ditched in 2016 following a robust campaign by objectors.

Cash planned for the new pitch went towards repairing the region’s ravaged roads, and a promise was made to carry out a fresh consultation process into finding a better site.

Supporters of the 3G pitch say the plans were kicked in to touch due to Victoria Park being Common Good Land which was not to be built on.

And they are now questioning why the pitch was rejected on this basis when new play park facilities are to be constructed on the protected site.

The heated online debate was deleted, but members of the community have since contacted the Peeblesshire News to voice their dismay.

Katharine Cotter from Innerleithen says that Councillors have introduced the new play and skate park plans and are “totally ignoring the 3G elephant in the room”.

She added: “The money that has been set aside for a 3G pitch has now been spent on road resurfacing and now more money seems to have been found. Where has the public consultation been to prioritise where the money goes?

“My son (age 12) and my daughter (age 10) both play football. I have lost track of how many games/training sessions we have had to cancel over the years both in Innerleithen and Peebles.

“The footballers, both kids and adults in Peeblesshire, desperately need a fit for purpose 21st Century 3G pitch and I can’t see who in the Council is prepared to take this on and help the community secure the much needed facilities.

“We have such a great community here that are usually right behind community initiatives and it makes me so frustrated that we can’t get an agreement and funding for facilities that will benefit the health and wellbeing of so many people.”

Meanwhile, James Thomson said Victoria Park has plenty of potential to cater for the all-weather pitch and new play facilities.

But one resident, Anjie Frost, is vehemently against the 3G pitch being sited within Victoria Park had this to say. “It is the only natural open space on that side of the river and has a significant amount of gifted trees which house all sorts of animals including bats.

“The space itself is gifted to the town and the folks of the town to use at their leisure and freely. Not a bunch of footballers who will charge for the privilege of concreting over grass to play football on, excluding anyone who doesn’t play or like the sport as well as a large section of children who can’t afford to use it.”

Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Shona Haslam said the local authority is in the second year of delivering its programme of new play facilities and she is delighted Peebles is next in line.

She said: “Aimed at children, young people and the young at heart there are some really exciting plans. A small group of volunteers, that I was a member of, have been campaigning for years to deliver a skate park in Peebles, when I was elected it was one of my main ambitions to deliver this in Peebles. Local volunteers should feel like when they have an idea and a vision for the town they can work with the council to deliver their dream. We have seen this with the skate park group and many other groups over the last couple of years."

The Council Leader says she hasn’t given up on the plans for a 3G pitch and continues to work towards finding a suitable site.

She added: “Previous plans for the park have been controversial, and I know many feel that we should have a 3G pitch for Peebles, The previous council were unable to deliver anything for the Park. I believe that Peebles deserves both and will continue to campaign, look for funding, consult with the public and deliver these initiatives for the town.”

Councillors are to present the new proposals for Victoria Park to Peebles Community Council in June.