Argyll and Bute Council’s ambitious £20m proposal to extend Oban’s North Pier and construct a development road to the north of the town took a huge step forward today.
The Scottish Government has announced that the Argyll and Bute project is one of three across Scotland to be given approval to develop under the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) scheme.
The news was welcomed by council leader Councillor Dick Walsh, who said it was a key moment in the future economic development of Oban and the surrounding area.
“This is fantastic news - both for Oban and the surrounding area and for Argyll and Bute as a whole,” Councillor Walsh said.
“We were confident that our bid was a very strong one, as Oban had already been identified as an area which met the government’s objectives for this scheme. However, we knew we were up against some extremely tough opposition, and we’re delighted to have been chosen to go forward to the next stage.
“This proposal has the potential to create some 1,000 jobs and bring huge investment and infrastructure improvements to the Oban area in the years to come.
“I would like to thank all those in both the public and private sectors who threw their support behind the plan. They recognised, as we do, that it is a key element in ensuring the area’s successful and sustainable economic growth, and we very much look forward to working with the Scottish Futures Trust in drawing up a full business case.”
The council’s proposal – known as the ‘Lorn Arc’ – covers Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine.
It would see Oban’s North Pier extended, and a new development road built to the north, improving the town’s ability to act as a transport hub and boosting its credentials as a key location for renewable energy, marine science and tourism.
Under TIF, councils plan to fund large infrastructure projects by borrowing against the future business rate income which would be generated by the new development.
The Scottish Government had already approved two TIF business cases from Edinburgh and North Lanarkshire, and is working with Glasgow and Aberdeen on another two.
It was looking for a further three to take forward, and Argyll and Bute was one of 15 local authorities to submit applications. The other two successful councils were Falkirk and Fife.
A full business case will now be drawn up. As part of this process, there will be comprehensive consultation with relevant parties, including local people and existing businesses in the area.