Back the bid for Oban city status - 2022

Find out about the bid for Oban City Status.

“We have to be ambitious for Argyll and Bute. We have to consider all opportunities to grow our economy.
City status for Oban would create opportunities for growth across Argyll and Bute. Competing for the title, with other places across the UK, is about showcasing that this is a great place to live, work and invest. It’s about attracting the people, skills and investment the area needs for long-term success.”

Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Robin Currie

Thank you for supporting the city status bid for Oban. We submitted the bid before the deadline on 8 December 2021 and we will hear if we are successful in spring/summer 2022.

You can read the full bid here:

We also submitted details of local tourism and leisure activities as well as public transport links around the area. We also provided information about leisure activities and transport links in and around Oban. You can find information on public transport options here.

Here is information on the benefits of bidding to win city status for Oban and Argyll and Bute. Thank you.

What benefits would city status bring for Oban?

City status does not automatically mean big changes to a place.  We are bidding for city status to create new opportunities to attract external investment, and help address essential infrastructure and other needs that are beyond the resources of the council and our partners.

What benefits would Oban city status bring for Argyll and Bute?

Argyll and Bute needs to attract more people, investment and high quality jobs, to reverse our population decline and build a successful future. City status could help with this by raising the profile of the area nationally and internationally. In addition, we are using a strapline to promote Oban and nearby communities that is designed to support the area’s tourism economy.

Why use the strapline, ‘Oban – Scotland in one place’?

We are in competition with a number of other places in Scotland, and across the UK. We have to show how Oban stands out from them.

We believe that it is the combination of Oban’s many great features that makes it special; other areas may have great scenery for example, or ambitions for growth; Oban however has something of everything associated positively with Scotland.

‘Oban – Scotland in one place’ conveys this for the city status bid; in addition, it is a good advert for Oban, and wider Argyll and Bute as a tourist destination.

We will illustrate and promote the strapline based on:

  • The Oban area’s unique mix of islands and mainland: its diverse lifestyles, its rich history and culture, and community life.
  • Beauty: stunning scenery and opportunities for varied leisure activities
  • Innovation: niche business sectors linked to our natural environment
  • Success: links with national and international business markets, award winning
  • Ambition: intention and actions being taken to support Oban, Argyll and Bute, Scotland and the UK

Why people have told us they want city status

Thanks to everyone who has let us know they support the bid for Oban. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • It would be good for Oban and the whole of Argyll and Bute
  • It would hopefully help to encourage services and suppliers such as banks to establish branches here
  • Oban city could be the smallest but most friendly [city] in Britain
  • Anything to help the economy

Answers to questions raised about Oban as a city

Infrastructure – roads, parking etc – how can we ensure it can deal with an increased population?

Bidding for city status is about creating opportunities for attracting investment that could deliver improved infrastructure and meet other needs. City status does not come with any automatic rights; however being a rural Scottish city would mean for example that Oban could be included in any government city initiative as well as rural growth initiatives.

Housing – how will that be available for people who need it?

The bid is about trying to attract new investment to the area. It’s important to note too that bidding for city status is just one of the actions we are taking to deliver more housing in and around Oban and also across Argyll and Bute.

For example housing is the focus of ‘repopulation zone’ initiatives we are progressing with partners.

Oban’s identity – how to protect that if it becomes a city?

Cities come in all shapes and sizes some being considerably smaller than Oban is today. Bidding for city status is about supporting what’s great about Oban, by celebrating what we already have as a place and creating opportunities for funding that could help address issues such as more affordable housing, new leisure or community facilities, green space or economic infrastructure for example.

Why bid for city status for Oban, rather than another town in Argyll and Bute?

Oban brings the highest chance of success for Argyll and Bute for various reasons, including:

It has a strategically important position on the west coast of the Highlands and Islands region independent of other cities – it  is a key transport hub, with one of the busiest ferry ports in the UK, good road, rail, active travel and air links, and is an established gateway to a number of our island communities.

It is a University Town with in excess of 1,000 students including the world renowned SAMs (Scottish Association for Marine Science) institute that carries out world class research and innovation in marine sciences).

It is a popular place to live with a growing population, an expanding and diversifying economy, and is an important destination for tourists (with its population boosted from 8.5k to 25k during peak summer periods).

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