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Forres Mechanics could lose parking area at Mosset Park as planning development gets go ahead


By Jonathan Clark

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A PLANNING development at the site of the old Tesco in Forres has left the town's biggest football club with worries over parking space.

Last month, the Scottish Government overturned a council decision to reject an application to develop on the site of the former Tesco, as well as some surrounding areas, including the Bobbin Mill car park outside AES Solar and Mosset Park, the home of Forres Mechanics.

This means that St Machar Properties – formerly Redco Milne – now has permission to build 48 homes on the brownfield site, which had lain derelict since 2002, pending certain conditions surrounding car parking spaces and play equipment for children being met.

The old Tesco site will be build on.
The old Tesco site will be build on.

AES Solar have already aired their concerns about how the plans will impact their business. Forres Mechanics are also set to be affected – with parking space, which has been available to the club since 1988, decimated.

An application to build flats has been accepted by the Scottish Government meaning there will no longer be anywhere to park outside AES Solar/Mosset Park. Picture: Becky Saunderson
An application to build flats has been accepted by the Scottish Government meaning there will no longer be anywhere to park outside AES Solar/Mosset Park. Picture: Becky Saunderson

On an average match day, there will be around 100 cars parked at the ground. Against Buckie Thistle on Saturday, March 12, there were 170 – along with two buses.

Of these, 27 were within the ground, 54 were at the Old Tesco car park, 40 were on nearby streets and 49 were outside the ground. Of the 49 outside the ground, 40 were on the planned building site.

The removal of these car parks is likely to create a big issue for the club on match days, not least for fans with mobility issues like Don Wright.

As a disability badge holder, Don, a lifelong member of the club, has permission to park within the ground. However, he knows of other fans with mobility issues that need to park nearby.

Dave Macdonald (Forres Mechanics chairman, left) joins Don Wright, Mechanics supporter, at the car park outside Mosset Park.
Dave Macdonald (Forres Mechanics chairman, left) joins Don Wright, Mechanics supporter, at the car park outside Mosset Park.

"I get inside by virtue of my blue badge and membership and there are one or two others who share the same privilege," he said. "The club are very considerate in that regard.

"But my feeling is that the club has been dealt with very unfairly by the planning system. Mechanics attract a lot of supporters, from within and outwith the town. Where are they going to park?

"There are those who are able to walk, but there are others who are less mobile and need to park next to the ground."

He added: "There's a lot of support for development at the old Tesco site and its vicinity. The need for additional housing is understood, but surely not at the expense of compromising quality and safety."

The scheme to develop the Caroline Street/Lead Road brownfield site for housing was first mooted in 2016 after the Redco plan for a retail development had failed. It was made clear at that stage that any development of the site would have to consider the need to retain parking at Mosset Park.

A planning application for the housing development, including the block of flats opposite AES Solar, was refused by Moray Council in August last year.

However, on appeal, it was overturned by a Scottish Government reporter, who felt there was adequate parking in the town, with the railway station offering alternate transport.

Don Wright (left) is joined by Forres Mechanics chairman outside Mosset Park ahead of Forres' home game against Inverurie Locos.
Don Wright (left) is joined by Forres Mechanics chairman outside Mosset Park ahead of Forres' home game against Inverurie Locos.

"He obviously has not observed the area on a match day nor tried to cross the A96 on foot," Don added.

"The future users of Mosset Park are now faced with the prospect of walking to the game, if they are fit to do so, or staying home and finding something else to do on a Saturday afternoon.

"This is despite their use of the parking area over the past 34 years, a fact which could be argued under Scots Law to give Mechanics fans the right to continue parking there.

"However, the legal route is an unaffordable option for the club."



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