THE rebirth of a popular sporting venue in Dumbarton is set to be complete by the spring of next year - almost three years later than originally planned.

The new-look facility at Posties Park will feature a weights area and gymnasium, changing facilities and parking spaces, as well as a refurbished athletics track, perimeter fence, gates and new floodlights.

A notice published on the West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) website last week confirmed that the application – submitted by the authority itself – had been approved.

The news is a significant step forward for attempts to breathe new life into Posties Park after years of uncertainty over the future of the site.

In 2017 WDC approved funding of £1.7 million to pay for a purpose-built sports hub at the park, replacing the current athletic track with a new six-lane all-weather track as well as building the new gym and changing area.

However, two years later the Reporter revealed that the cost of the project – which was originally earmarked for completion in the summer of 2019 – had increased by at least £500,000.

In September 2019 the Public Contracts Scotland website stated that a contract had been awarded to Greenock-based firm W.H. Kirkwood with a minimum value of £2.2m – but that that figure could rise further, to almost £3m, once the project is complete.

A handling report on the plans says the pavilion will be 75 metres long, with a curved roof and a canopy, and will include a hospitality space, cleaning store and office as well as changing facilities.

The report also reveals that six trees will be cut down to enable the work to take place, but that “the loss of trees needs to be balanced against the gains the improved sports pavilion will provide to the wider community”.

It added: “The building design is considered to be acceptable and will work well within the wider setting.”

Scottish Natural Heritage – now NatureScot – originally objected because the site is close to a winter breeding ground for the redshank, whose numbers have declined in recent years in many parts of the UK, but later withdrew its objection after the council proposed extra screening measures.

A bicycle shelter with room for 16 bikes will also be provided at the new facility.

Maurice Donohue from West Dunbartonshire Athletics Club, organiser of numerous athletic events in the area, said: “This is a great investment.

“I have been involved with the committee of West Dunbartonshire Athletics Club for over 12 years and Posties Park has been our training venue since the athletics club was formed in 1998.

“This new facility with its beautiful natural backdrop, will provide a great opportunity for grassroots athletics and encourage young children to get into the sport.

“With events like the Olympic Games being shown on television, we will soon have a sports facility that can capitalise on interest.

“Along with the regeneration of Levengrove Park, we now have an area that really does have a focal point in promoting walking, jogging and running in West Dunbartonshire.”

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council confirmed that the centre is planned to be complete by March 2022.

Posties Park was identified in May 2013 as the council’s preferred site for a new Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School, but the idea was ditched in January of the following year after a huge public outcry, with the new school eventually being built in Bellsmyre instead.

Posties Park was also suggested as a possible site for a new “super care home” for Dumbarton, before Crosslet House was chosen instead.