Projects designed to transform Argyll and Bute and boost the appeal of its towns and villages to investors and visitors are continuing to make good progress.
At a meeting of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure committee, councillors were given an update on 18 projects that have attracted funding of £37 million to support the transformation of communities across the area.
Four of the initiatives are Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) projects which receive funding from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), with match funding from the council and private owners. The schemes provide grants to property owners to help them repair and safeguard historic buildings. Projects include:
- Rothesay Townscape Heritage Phase 2 - this is year four of a £2.75m, five year programme. Of the five priority building repair projects, three are complete, one is awaiting a start date, and the final project will shortly go to tender. Three shopfront restorations have also been completed, with another nearing completion, and a series of window repair grants have been provided for restoration of traditional timber sash and case windows
- Dunoon CARS - this £1.95m project is in its final year. The restoration of three priority buildings and 22 shopfronts has been completed with a further two projects currently out to tender
- Helensburgh CARS – this is the first year of a £1.8m, five-year project. Four buildings have been identified as priorities for grant assistance and two expressions of interest have been submitted by owners of properties for smaller grants
- Lochgilphead CARS – this is the second year of the project with the first building project set to begin in April and development underway for a second building
Other projects being supported include:
- Hermitage Park, Parks for People – this £3.7m project is in its final year. Current activity includes creating a new volunteer bothy in the park’s demonstration garden with the garden itself now under development. An agreement with the University of the Highlands and Islands is now in place to allow the Park to be used as a venue for practical activities for students’ NC Horticulture courses.
- Tarbert/Lochgilphead Regeneration Fund – four projects are complete including Gleaner (Phase 1), Tarbert Harbour, Barmore/Garvel Road junction improvements and Colchester Square/Argyll Street, Lochgilphead. Current projects include Lochgilphead Front Green, Ardrishaig North Public Realm and phase two of Gleaner.
- Regeneration Capital Grant Funding - Over the past seven years, a total of £8.96m RCGF funding has been secured from Scottish Government to support 15 projects in the area. A further three projects secured funding during 2022-23: Obair Ùr Thirodh – Tiree Community Business Hub (£565k), Kerrera Old School - Community Hub Final Phase (£285k), and Ulva Ferry Shore Facilities Building - Doras Caolas Ulbha (£603k). Current projects include Kilmartin Museum (construction started spring 2021), Mid Argyll Community Pool (construction work started spring 2021), Storas Ulbha Heritage project, Ulva, Port Ellen Community Hub on Islay, Scalasaig business units on Colonsay and Kilmory Business Park, Lochgilphead.
- Scottish Government Town Centre Fund 2019-2022 - 28 projects using the full £1.686m allocation have now been delivered, focusing on making key town centres more attractive, healthier, and easier to navigate places, as well as strengthening the area as a tourist destination.
Scottish Government Place Based Investment 2021 – 2026 – Funding has been committed to eight projects which include:
- A region-wide (excluding CARS or BID towns) shopfront improvement scheme (£80,000)
- Rothesay Townscape Heritage priority building (£100,000)
- Public realm enhancements in Bowmore town centre (£80,000)
- Improvements to Castle House Gate Lodge, Dunoon (£70,000)
- Landscaping grant to Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust (£50,000)
- Enhancing the surface of Helensburgh masonry pier (£163,000)
- Public realm improvements in Gibraltar Street, Oban (£250,000)
- Helensburgh Hermitage Park, Greening The Bothy project (£28,000)
- Scotland Loves Local - £46k was secured from Scotland Town’s Partnership (STP) to develop a suite of measures to support the recovery of town centres, encourage shopping locally and promoting the idea of the ‘20 minute neighbourhood’. As well as the award of 120 shopfront improvement grants to business owners, work also includes 115 local businesses being professionally photographed to enhance their online presence and the launch of the Argyll and Bute gift card scheme designed to boost local spending and support local businesses
Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Robin Currie, said: “Investment is taking place across much of Argyll and Bute, all of which is designed to deliver significant improvements to the quality of life of local people and our communities. Excellent progress is being on a wide range of projects and we will be working closely with colleagues, partners and community stakeholders to ensure their successful delivery.
“All these initiatives are part of the Council’s vision for assisting Argyll and Bute’s economic recovery, helping to sustain small businesses, enhancing the area’s appeal to investors and improving our towns and villages as places to live and visit.”