The draft masterplans for two of the highest profile development sites in Helensburgh will be discussed by councillors next week.
The documents, which will inform any future proposals for the pier head and former Hermitage Academy sites, have been revised following a period of public consultation.
In response to the views of the vast majority of those who took part in the consultation the preferred way forward is for a new swimming pool and leisure centre to be built on the pier head, with no large supermarket on that site.
Under these plans there would be some low-level mixed retail units, set back from West Clyde Street.
The draft masterplan for the former Hermitage Academy site suggests it be retained for both affordable and private housing.
Argyll and Bute Council’s depute leader Councillor Ellen Morton, who represents the Helensburgh and Lomond South area, said the public consultation had been ‘a huge success’.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people from all sectors of society came forward to play their part in the future of these two key sites, and we have listened to what they said to us,” she added.
“The amendments we have made to the draft masterplans are a reflection of what the majority of respondents told us they would like to see.
“As the consultation progressed, a clear picture emerged that the community does not want a large supermarket on the pier head at this time. What most people want is for a new swimming pool and leisure centre to have prime position on that site and for that new facility to be built before the old one is closed.
“I’m delighted the public have confirmed the council’s opinion that there should be no petrol station on the pier head. At the same time they have expressed a desire for the academy site to be used for housing, and only used for a swimming pool if the pier head option can’t be delivered.
“We have also allowed for additional pedestrian space and improved landscaping and public realm works so that people who perhaps don’t necessarily want to use the leisure centre can nevertheless enjoy the area around it. In addition, in response to what people have said they’d like to see, we have incorporated space for coach parking and accommodated drop off and pick up points for buses, taxis and cars on the pier head.”
Even if the documents are agreed in their current form, there would still be scope for a swimming pool and leisure facility to be constructed at the Hermitage site as a contingency.
Helensburgh Central councillor and chair of the Helensburgh CHORD project board, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, said another key message from the consultation was that the pier head must become a vibrant and attractive part of the town centre landscape.
“There are many complex issues to consider here, and all of them feature in some way or another in the responses we have received,” he said.
“Among the comments made was that whatever was developed on the pier head should not just make a major contribution to Helensburgh’s leisure and/or retail facilities, but also to the general landscape and public environment. This, of course, fits in exactly with what we are working towards in terms of the CHORD programme.
“To this end, the revised draft masterplan for the pier head has reduced the height and size of the mixed retail units along West Clyde Street and set them back from the road, thereby reducing the impact on the views over the Clyde from the town centre, and has also removed the residential element entirely.
“I am delighted that the revised plans reflect so effectively what the majority of our residents and visitors want to see, and I for one will be urging my fellow councillors to approve the drafts next week.
“With consensus emerging on the pierhead, a decision imminent on the Waitrose store and petrol station, works about to start at Kidston, the Esplanade and the town centre, 2012 is a bright new dawn for Helensburgh.”
The executive next Thursday is asked to approve the draft masterplans. If there are significant changes the plans will be issued for a period of consultation before going back to the committee for ratification later in the year.
If approved, the committee is also asked to authorise council officers to develop a procurement strategy and project delivery plan which will generate options for the replacement of the existing pool in accordance with the revised masterplans.