Shire plan to cash in on Firs Park faces opposition from neighbours

The exit sign at Firs Park showed fans the way out for the last time in 2008
The exit sign at Firs Park showed fans the way out for the last time in 2008

Football league minnows East Stirlingshire are looking for their best result of the season - off the pitch.

The League Two club, which has been ground sharing with Stenhousemuir at Ochilview since 2008, wants to sell its derelict Firs Park ground and invest the cash in a new home.

But lining up against their bid to win planning permission in principle from Falkirk Council is a team of neighbours from nearby Wallace Street concerned about the traffic and parking problems the development could cause.

Councillors visited the site to hear their views and will make a decision at the end of the month.

They have been asked to approve a development for 86 flats with parking and open space on the 1.1 hectare brownbelt site, which is now redundant and overgrown.

Football club secretary Tadek Kopszywa said: “The club will benefit from the sale and the development of Firs Park. It has a ground share agreement with Stenhousemuir FC until 2033 but has no plans to stay there until then and has already held talks with the owner of land at Little Kerse in Grangemouth to build a new stadium there. That, of course, is dependent on selling Firs Park with planning permission for it to be developed.

“Firs Park is derelict and we have no intention of going back. The football club sees its long term future at Little Kerse. When planning permission was refused in 2008 it was because it had potential recreational use but, looking at the site today, I’d say that is no longer the case.”

The ground is owned by businessman and former football club manager Alan Mackin as majority shareholder. Minority shareholders will receive a share of the proceeds as a dividend if the ground is sold and Mr Kopszywa says that money will be ploughed into paying for the club’s new home.

At the site visit neighbours complained building would only compound the problems they already face with traffic and parking in the area. One said: “Traffic here at the moment is unbelievable and nowadays couples can have two cars, so where are the people living in these 86 flats and family and friends who visit them going to park?”

Councillors refused a similar application six years ago, but officers have recommended that, while it is contrary to the local development plan, it should be granted this time.