Green light for multi-million pound Helensburgh scheme

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Published Date: 

29 Sep 2011 - 15:30

Argyll and Bute’s largest town is to undergo the most major improvement works it has seen for decades.


Councillors today agreed to release £6.3million to enhance and rejuvenate Helensburgh’s historic town centre and redevelop the West Bay Esplanade.


The move was hailed as a watershed in the town’s recent history, and the last remaining hurdle in the efforts to transform two of its key areas.


The scheme is part of Argyll and Bute Council’s flagship £30millon CHORD programme to assist regeneration and economic development in five key coastal towns – Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon.


The £6.3million released today represents the green light for the tender process to begin. The works are programmed to start in late February 2012 and finish in early May 2013.


The decision was welcomed by chair of the Helensburgh CHORD project board Councillor Gary Mulvaney.


“This is arguably the most significant decision taken for Helensburgh since Argyll and Bute Council came into existence in 1996,” he said.


“Independent assessors have concluded that this project has the potential to support and grow the area’s business base and act as a catalyst for attracting new investment, as well as helping to attract new residents and increase visitor numbers.


“I’m sure every town in the country would jump at such an opportunity, particularly in the current challenging economic climate.


“I am delighted that the council has maintained its commitment to the CHORD project despite the financial challenges, and am confident that people will look back at this decision as a watershed in the town’s recent history.”


Councillor Mulvaney stressed that the Helensburgh CHORD scheme has been shaped in large part by local residents and businesses.


“An extensive consultation exercise had a considerable influence on the final design, with the project team taking all feedback on board in drawing up the final plans,” he said.


“The result is that we have settled on a scheme which best reflects the needs and aspirations of all sectors of the local community.


“This is a very exciting time and one which promises to have a major influence on Helensburgh’s prospects, both in the short and longer term.


“We have had individuals, local businesses, major retailers, developers and other organisations queuing up to urge us to get the work started as quickly as possible, and that’s what we will now be concentrating on doing.”


Among those to throw their weight behind the project are Helensburgh Chamber of Commerce, which sent a message to all members of the council’s Executive before today’s meeting urging support for the plan.


Today’s decision comes nearly three years after the idea of a regeneration plan for coastal towns was first approved.


In November 2008, Argyll and Bute Council unanimously agreed to allocate more than £30million to what has since been named the CHORD programme. The aim was to improve the character, appearance and function of the five towns for residents, visitors and investors and to make them economically vibrant so as to create employment and prosperity for local residents.


The CHORD schemes in each town are:


  • Campbeltown– improvements to the town’s heritage and conservation sites through the Campbeltown Town Centre Regeneration Project, the re-development of the existing marina and the regeneration of the Kinloch Road area (£6.5million).
  • Helensburgh – rejuvenating the town centre, including developing a more sustainable traffic management system, and redeveloping the West Bay Esplanade (£6.66million, of which some £0.3million has already been spent in developing the project to full business case).
  •  Oban– improve traffic flow within the town centre, reconfigure Oban Bay/Harbour to better meet the needs of users, refresh the Oban Action Plan and develop the transport interchange. (£6.9million).
  • Rothesay – deliver a Townscape Heritage Initiative for the Rothesay Town Centre Conservation area, and renovate and improve Rothesay Pavilion (£2.4million).
  • Dunoon – redevelop and create a vibrant and attractive waterfront (£8.3million). 

In Helensburgh’s case, the specific elements include:

  • Upgrading the streetscape environment in the town centre’s principal shopping areas
  • Upgrading the area outside Helensburgh Central Station
  • Creating an open space in Colquhoun Square capable of hosting events
  • Redeveloping the West Bay Esplanade and refurbishing its toilets
  • Improving visitor signage and interpretation of the ‘town’
  • Integrating public art


Full business cases are currently being prepared for the Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon projects. The Campbeltown townscape initiative has already progressed through this stage and is now being implemented.


More information on each project can be found on the council’s CHORD web pages at