Nearly £2million is being released to enable key regeneration projects to be started across Oban as part of its flagship CHORD programme.
Argyll and Bute’s Executive today approved the CHORD programme board’s recommendation to release £1.84m to allow the first phase of the project to progress.
The schemes will cover initial phases of all three components of the CHORD programme in Oban – traffic management, reconfiguration of the bay/harbour and improvements to the transport interchange.
The phased approach to funding allows short term projects to be progressed in Spring/Summer this year while the medium term projects go through the design phase. Implementation of these projects would be expected to begin in late 2012.
The decision was welcomed by Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, chair of the Oban CHORD project board, who said it marked a huge step forward in the overall programme.
“This is a massive vote of confidence in the CHORD plans for Oban, which promise not just to transform various areas of the town but also in the process to boost economic growth and Oban’s reputation as the capital of the West Highlands,” he said.
“These projects are set in the context of the Oban Action Plan, which lays out the priorities for the town over the coming years and ensures that all individual projects are developed and implemented in a co-ordinated and strategic way.
“The community of Oban and the surrounding area has played a huge part in both the Action Plan and the first phases of the CHORD schemes. We have run a comprehensive programme of public consultation over a number of months which many people from all sectors of society took part in, and their views and comments played a significant role in the proposals which have received funding today.
“I know that the local community will be delighted to hear that the money to make a start on these schemes has now been released, and that we are on the verge of drawing up detailed proposals for some of the improvements which people have told us they would like to see.
“The CHORD programme has the potential to transform the Oban experience for residents, businesses and visitors, and this decision marks the start of a very exciting time for the town. These projects will of course also align with and complement planned future investments in and around the town such as the Lorn Arc project.
“I would like to assure everyone concerned that, as chair of the project board, I will be doing all I can to ensure that we see work starting on the ground as soon as possible.”
The first phases of the projects – which the £1.84m will cover - include:
- Traffic management – detailed design and implementation (subject to final sign-off by the project board) of physical improvements at known ‘pinch points’ in the town; relocation of the High School access to alleviate problems on Soroba Road; parking improvements; pedestrian crossing improvements; footpath completion and widening; cycling provision. The council will work in partnership with Transport Scotland on these improvements, as well as on Transport Scotland's planned £2.5m Oban road reconstruction programme.
- Transport interchange – detailed design and implementation (subject to final sign off by the project board) of signage improvements; provision of real time information and journey planning facilities; improvements to bus shelters; improvements to accessibility and taxi rank – all to improve the travelling experience of both residents and visitors.
- Reconfiguration of the bay/harbour area – detailed design and implementation (subject to final sign off by the project board) on pontoons at the North Pier which would provide facilities for cruise ship tenders. These would be flexible such that if/when the North Pier extension works happened, the facilities could be relocated elsewhere.
The next steps will see the final designs presented to the Oban CHORD project board for sign-off, allowing work to start on the ground.
Work will be carried out with the summer tourist season in mind in order to ensure that congestion is kept to a minimum.
Marri Malloy, chair of Oban Community Council, welcomed news that the £1.8m has now been released.
“I’ve been involved in the CHORD programme for some time and the community council – along with many other organisations and individuals - has worked very hard to ensure it becomes a reality,” she said.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that everything is starting to come together, because this is going to be a new beginning for Oban.
“Today’s decision marks the start of what promises to be a very exciting few years for our town, and I’m really looking forward to witnessing the various projects take off and to seeing the difference they make for all of us who live and work in Oban.”
Argyll and Bute’s £30million CHORD programme aims to assist regeneration and economic development in five towns – Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon.
The £1.84m agreed today is part of the total £6.9million allocation for Oban.