COMMUNITY councillors have unanimously backed the creation of a Men’s Shed on the grounds of a disused former bowling club in Rhu.

But organisers have expressed their frustration at a lack of progress in developing the old sports club site, with its current owners reportedly refusing to engage in any discussions over its future use.

At a meeting of Rhu and Shandon Community Council in December members offered their full support to the project and urged the founders of the Helensburgh and District Men’s Shed organisation to put more pressure on the landowners to release the site for community use.

Two former trustees of Rhu Bowling Club are believed to be the owners of the land off Inchgower Grove in the village, which has been left untouched and has fallen into disrepair since the club’s demise in 2013.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The old bowling club pavilion could be demolishedThe old bowling club pavilion could be demolished

An application for the demolition of the pavilion was submitted to Argyll and Bute Council two months ago by agent Raymond Mathers on behalf of the owners, but it is unclear what their intentions are for the site.

Brian Mackay, founder of the local Men’s Shed organisation, said his group has prepared a pre-application consultation for the development of a new facility and the creation of allotments - should there be any sign of a breakthrough in negotiations.

READ MORE: Helensburgh Men's Shed 'back to stage one' as bowling club site bid fails

He told the virtual meeting: “At the beginning of 2020 we got to a position where talking to the owners didn’t seem to be getting us very far.

“We decided that maybe a pre-application should be submitted to let people know in the planning department what we were thinking about.

“We didn’t get very far with it. We didn’t submit it; it has been prepared, and it’s sitting there waiting to go if we have any indication that there is some movement by the owners to release the title that they hold on that land.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The building is in a state of disrepairThe building is in a state of disrepair

“There is no point in spending money and putting that pre-application in unless we know there would be some relaxation on their position.”

Community councillor Jim Duncan said: “The previous convener and I both had meetings with the owners and put it to them that really this piece of ground should be in community ownership.

“It seems plain to me, to be completely frank, that they have no intention of releasing this land for community ownership.

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“If a pre-planning application was submitted, in light of the lack of response from the owners, and if that was approved, it would be simply adding to the pressure on the present site owners to consider releasing the title.

“It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation; until the owners say ‘yes, we will release it’, you could argue that it’s pointless to even make an application.

“But if an application was made and if it was supported locally it might add sufficient pressure onto the present owners to release the title and let this go ahead.”

Fiona Baker, the recently-appointed convener of Rhu and Shandon Community Council, said news of the demolition notice for the former pavilion was “very positive... because it’s a dangerous building”.

Mr Mackay added: “We’re looking for support from the [community] council and from the neighbours of the bowling club and the whole of Rhu itself.

“The people of Rhu need to be supportive of what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to put a Men’s Shed in place with the capability to provide community services in the area in the form of an allotment.”

Community council members unanimously supported the ambitions of the Men’s Shed to acquire the former bowling club site and develop a Men’s Shed and allotments for the community.