Economic development a top priority for Helensburgh

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Published Date: 

10 Jan 2012 - 11:35

The leader of Argyll and Bute Council has stressed that the drive to secure sustainable economic development will be at the heart of the authority’s deliberations over two key Helensburgh sites.


Councillor Dick Walsh was speaking as the public consultation process for the pier head and former Hermitage Academy site masterplans gathered pace, with the two open days scheduled for later this week.


“We have already agreed a £6.6million CHORD programme, designed to transform Helensburgh’s town centre and waterfront areas,” Councillor Walsh said.


“In addition to the major investment through CHORD, the council has also acquired further land at the waterfront as well as committing major other investment in Helensburgh. We spent over £4 million relating to the site of the new school which released the former Academy site for future development and investment and then provided  the new Hermitage Academy at a capital cost of some £30million.


“The CHORD programme will provide the basis for the wider regeneration of the town centre, and I think everyone in the Helensburgh and Lomond area would agree that the pier head represents the most important and prominent site for action in this respect.


“We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity now to trigger a real step change in the economic vibrancy of Helensburgh and keep the core retail, business and commercial interests within the centre of the town.


“It is our responsibility to ensure that whatever options we eventually agree provide the best possible outcome for Helensburgh’s residents, businesses and visitors. That’s why we are so keen to hear what people think of the various possibilities on the table.”


Councillor Walsh added that the question was not just about which retail, leisure or housing development went where.


“There are a number of other complex and important issues which need to be addressed including, for instance, town centre parking,” he said.


“The subject of parking might not seem critical when compared to multi-million pound development proposals, but sufficient parking in appropriate locations is absolutely key to being able to create and maintain a vibrant town centre.


“The CHORD programme makes provision for new parking arrangements in the town centre, and parking will also be high on the agenda in terms of assessing development opportunities for the pier head.”


Councillor Walsh urged people to play a part in the consultation on the masterplans, which finishes on Wednesday, January 18 2012.


“I would encourage anyone who has not yet had the chance to look at the drafts of these important documents to do so, as they set out how the built environment might look under each of the possible options,” he added.


“The people of Helensburgh and the surrounding area should be assured that we are looking at every aspect of every development opportunity, and will take all views submitted to us into account when the time comes to make any decisions.


“At the end of the day, our aim is to enable Helensburgh to fulfil its significant economic development potential both in the short and the longer term. We will continue to strive towards achieving that goal and, in doing so, securing the best possible outcome for local residents and existing businesses, as well as attracting significant new investment in the future.”


The dedicated Helensburgh masterplans consultation page on the council’s website is at, where visitors will find copies of the draft masterplans as well as the online response form and other relevant documents.


The two open days are on Friday, January 13 from 1pm to 8pm and on Saturday, January 14 from 10am to 3pm, both at Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls.