Second phase of public realm work in Oban taking shape

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Published Date: 

25 Sep 2015 - 16:10

Over £2million of public realm improvements around Oban Bay set to be completed by summer 2016

Argyll and Bute Council’s ambitious public realm improvement project in Oban is taking shape, with the contractor, Land Engineering, having developed an outline programme for the work.

Major construction work will start on site on Monday 4th January 2016 and is expected to be completed by summer 2016. The tender for the contract indicated a start on site in October, however, after the contractor’s expert civil engineers considered what the work involved they determined that it would be more sensible to start in the New Year.

There are a number of benefits to this approach:

·         There will be no disruption during the Royal National Mod or in the lead up to Christmas, traditionally a busy trading time.

·         The contractor will not be leaving an excavated site when they go off-site for the Christmas shutdown.

·         It is better to carry out the excavation work in January/February as this work is not weather dependent. Had they started in October the site would have been excavated pre-Christmas, with the building work then due to start in January, which could have been adversely affected by the weather.

·         The contractor will be on-site continuously from the start of the works to completion.

When the work begins the contractor will be aiming to complete the shopfront side of George Street and Station Square first, with the seaward side going ahead last.

The work around shopfronts is being planned to minimise disruption, with small sections being completed quickly then handed back to the public, rather than working on large sections of street which would obviously take more time.

The work will also start at the roadside of the footway and work in, meaning access is maintained at all times. Any work directly around shopfronts will be take place outside trading hours, again keeping the disruptive element of the work to an absolute minimum.

Land Engineering will have a site office in the centre of town, exact location to be confirmed, where people can drop in if they have business or personal queries on the project and speak to the dedicated community liaison officer who will be happy to help.

The council will be providing people with regular weekly progress updates on the website and through the local press.

A public information evening is planned, with the details to follow.

Land Engineering may be on site doing some investigation work and pre-planning before Christmas but the work does not officially start until January.

Policy Lead for Infrastructure, Councillor Ellen Morton, said: ‘’This is yet more good news for people in and around Oban. Having met with the contractor we are happy with their plans and the positive direction outlined for this project.

‘’It is sensible to start in January and get in and get it done in time for the summer. Everyone appreciates that public realm work, by its very nature, is disruptive but we will be making every effort to keep disruption to a minimum. People can see the benefits of this type of project with the fabulous Stafford Street, which is already being really well used and is bringing more footfall to the town and increasing the opportunities for businesses.

‘’We would encourage people to bear with us through the work and have an eye on the prize at the end – a great new public space around Oban Bay which will see the town looking fantastic in time for the busy tourist season.

‘’At a time of financial challenge we continue to make targeted investment which will improve our towns and create the right conditions for jobs.’’

Chair of the Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee, Councillor Roddy McCuish, said: ‘’We are delighted to see this project moving forward. After meeting the contractor we can give people the comfort that they are committed to keeping the disruption to an absolute minimum.

‘’While we cannot foresee exactly how the work will unfold once the workmen are in the ground what we can guarantee is that we will make every effort to keep people informed about the project, with regular weekly updates.

‘’Local traders can drop into the site office at any time for information and will be given a card with key out-of-hours contact numbers.

‘’With Stafford street complete, the planning permission in place for the new Oban High School, the Oban Airport business park project underway and now a programme of works agreed for the bigger public realm project these really are exciting times for people in and around Oban.’’

The design for Station Square provides a shared surface, flexible space for occasional events; a widened seaside footway; an improved shelter for bus passengers; bespoke seating; ornamental planting; provision for the taxis and feature lighting columns incorporating a WIFI repeater station.

George Street and Queen’s Park Place will see bespoke seating areas, including planting and feature lighting columns incorporating a WIFI repeater station; an improved footway on the seafront; refurbished railings and replacement lighting along the sea wall.

In the delivery of these improvements the council will be working closely with partners such as Transport Scotland, Abellio and CMAL.