Dumbarton High Street and the Fountain in Alexandria. Pictures by Tom Gardiner and Bill Heaney
By Democrat reporter
Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank town centres will all see enhancements made thanks to money from the Town Centre Fund.
West Dunbartonshire Council was granted a one-off award of £859,000 from the Scottish Government earlier this year as part of a contribution towards transformative investments which drive local economic activities and help town centres become more diverse and sustainable.
At today’s meeting of the Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development committee, members agreed proposals for investing the additional funding.
Part of the criteria for funding is that it must be spent by August next year, meaning the projects chosen must be delivered before that date.
In Alexandria, three Main Street properties will be refurbished to bring them back into use and designs will also be developed for the restoration of the Smollett Fountain as a landmark feature.
In Clydebank, the plan is to upgrade Sylvania Way South, which is close to the entrance to Clyde Regional Shopping Centre, with resurfacing, new street furniture and landscaping.
While in Dumbarton, the intention is to capitalise on the town centre’s close proximity to the river by creating a high quality gathering place and gateway to the Waterfront Pathway at Riverside Lane. The development would include greenspace, seating and ‘pocket park’ facilities, all of which will help connect the High Street with the riverfront.
In selecting the projects for investment, officers considered previous community consultations and charrettes to take account of residents’ needs and demands, and also reflected on Town Centre Forum discussions.
The total value of all developments exceeds the £859,000 allocation, and Councillors also agreed that the Local Economic Development capital budget can be used to meet additional costs.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of the committee, said: “The purpose of the Town Centre Fund is to contribute to projects which will help drive the local economy and allow town centres to become more successful and more sustainable.
“I am pleased to see that officers have put a lot of thought into which projects would benefit most from this funding, as well as taking into account the view point of the communities involved.
“The fact that this funding must be used towards projects which can be completed in this financial year made it slightly more challenging to allocate it, but I am satisfied that the proposals we heard here are the best choices available.”
Cllrs Ian McLaren, Caroline McAllister and Marie McNair.
Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of the committee, added: “The people in these communities know most about what they need to enhance their surroundings, and so I am pleased these proposals were based on feedback from consultations and charrettes recently.
“These projects will each make a difference to the communities they are in, and I am particularly happy to see plans to improve Sylvania Way South, which will improve the first impression of Clydebank to visitors travelling from Glasgow.”
The three properties in Alexandria – at 76-80 Main Street, 158-160 Main Street and 119 Main Street – would be used for a mix of upper floor social housing and offices, with ground floor retail or community spaces.
Councillor Caroline McAllister brought a motion that one of the spaces would be identified as a community hub, which residents can use free of charge. A management group will be developed to run the hub, for a period of one year initially.
Her motion also outlined a commitment to pursue the improvement of Main Street and Bank Street in consultation with the community, including public realm upgrade, enhanced street lighting, improved signage and the tidying up of buildings.
While the complex restoration of the Smollett Fountain will not be able to be completed within this financial year, the fund can pay for design development for it.
Design development for Clydebank will be informed by local business and community engagement and work is anticipated to begin in Spring next year, following agreement with Clyde Shopping Centre owners about their investment.
Design development and stakeholder consultations for the Dumbarton riverfront project will take place in August and September with work expected to begin in early Spring next year.