At today’s (Wednesday 20 August) Planning, Protective Services and Licensing (PPSL) committee members agreed to grant planning permission for the North Pier Maritime Visitor Facility (formerly known as the White Building). Planning permission has also been granted by the council’s planning service, through delegated powers, for phase one of the Oban Bay public realm enhancement scheme, the pedestrianisation of Stafford Street. Planning permission for phase two is expected to be granted soon, again through delegated powers, following some amendments to the Station Square designs, in response to the consultation process.
The new facility on the north pier will enclose a circular gathering space and be covered by a timber and glass canopy. The new building will include a pier office; additional public toilets and showers; secure locker facilities; storage and laundry; a waiting area for coach parties and cruise ship passengers and an exciting covered event space.
The public realm improvements will encompass all of Stafford Street as well as extending into George Street, Queens Park Place and Station Square.
The improvements to Stafford Street will provide a terraced space to sit, relax and view the bay; a flexible space (with power and Wi-Fi) for small scale events and shelter with inlaid artwork and ornamental colour changing LED lighting, in keeping with the scheme at McCaig’s Tower.
The design for Station Square provides a flexible space for events; a widened seaside footway; a shelter for both bus passengers and spectators at events; flexible seating; ornamental planting; LED lighting similar to Stafford Street; like-for-like provision for taxis and a new plinth for the clock tower.
George Street and Queens Park Place will see bespoke seating areas, including planting and decorative lighting; an improved footway on the seafront; refurbished railings and sea wall; an interactive information point and replacement lighting along the sea wall.
These designs have been developed following consultations with statutory bodies, key stakeholders and the local communities. Businesses directly affected by the project will be consulted throughout the design process, with the final designs being exhibited upon completion.
The designs are currently being developed to the technical design stage and full business cases (FBC) produced. These FBCs will go before members of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee on 10 September and, if members approve, the full council for sign-off on 25 September.
Chair of the PPSL committee, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said of the planning approval: ‘’I’m pleased that we were able to grant planning permission for these two exciting projects - we focus on making things happen, supporting sustainable economic growth and regeneration. These two projects are appropriate in the context of national planning policy and our local development plan.’’
Chair of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee, Councillor Alistair MacDougall, said: ‘’I’m very pleased with this news - it’s exciting to see the Oban regeneration project moving forward, with work set to begin soon.
‘’These improvement works will deliver long-lasting benefits for the people of Oban and the surrounding area.
‘’In place of the White Building we will have a purpose built state of the art facility framing the new multi-functional public space.
‘’The public realm work will give us a tailored waterfront which reflects the character of Oban and is more attractive both to visitors and residents, generating additional footfall for the benefit of local retailers.’’
Work is expected to begin on the North Pier in January 2015 with the demolition of the White Building.
The public realm work will be split into two phases, with Stafford Street being developed as a first phase from October 2014 to April 2015, and the remainder of the project being developed afterwards.
Both of the proposals being taken forward meet the terms of the initial briefs and offer the flexibility to complement the longer term regeneration projects in and around the Oban area.