Helensburgh in the old days when visitors flocked there on high days and holidays.
Plans to turn the site of the old open-air swimming pool on Helensburgh seafront into a supermarket are said to be progressing steadily despite widespread feeling amongst townspeople that this would be an unpopular change of use.
Argyll and Bute Council bosses are reported to be pushing ahead with this controversial plan, which raised its head many years ago when Helensburgh was still part of Dunbartonshire.
It was made clear at that time that the Helensburgh foreshore on which the pier stands was not council owned but belonged to the Crown Estates.
The Helensburgh Advertiser reported this week that the planning process was ongoing despite opposition from residents and businesses to “selling the land for a massive retail development.”
This was happening, the newspaper said, “to help them recoup £1 million for the new leisure centre”.
It is understood that five supermarkets are in discussions for part of the structure, with Co-op, who were involved in at least one previous bid, “out in front” ahead of Aldi, Lidl, M&S and B&M.
A “Save Our Seafront” campaign saw the end of a bid by Sainsbury’s and no one is speaking about the possible consequences of a new retail complex on the seafront.
Upmarket Waitrose opened a supermarket site on green belt land on Cardross Road near Colgrain, but later sold it to Morrisons. If the Co-op were to move to the seafront then that would leave a massive hole where their current outlet now stands at the junction of Sinclair Street and East King Street.
Norman Muir, convener of Helensburgh Community Council, said it had been a “friendly” meeting.
He said: “This was an initial fact-finding meeting to be informed of the council’s current position with plans for the site and a face-to-face discussion concerning our respective positions on the eventual disposal of the ground in question.
“Argyll and Bute seeks to capitalise on a financial imperative to defray the budget costs of the new leisure centre by attracting retail on the site.
“The community view, borne out by our statistical analysis over a number of years and the recent exhibition, ‘Visions for Helensburgh’, in March this year is that the (pool) should be preserved for community interests such as leisure, youth activities, tourism and so on.
“The meeting was friendly and constructive and represented a start to a process of continuing discussions. Argyll and Bute has agreed to develop a consultative programme in the next couple of weeks to continue the dialogue. Both the community council and the Chamber are agreed that the interests of the community must be paramount in the eventual outcome.”
Helensburgh’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, said it was welcome that the new swimming pool was going to open next month.
But she said: “The issue now is (what will happen to) the ground on which the old swimming pool stands and it is in a prime location on the waterfront.
“It is imperative that local residents and those who run businesses in the town are properly consulted on the next steps for this area. Any usage of this land must serve the interests of the people of Helensburgh.”
Flamingoland should go away, give us all peace and stop pursuing their plans for Balloch which amount to a waste of time and public money which could almost certainly be better spent on other parts of Loch Lomondside.
Flamingo Land’s hopes of being granted permission for a controversial visitor attraction on the shores of Loch Lomond have been dealt a blow after it emerged that the National Park’s estates manager has expressed concerns about the impact of a monorail on the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway.
The Slipway is owned and managed by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority’s Estate department.
The Estate Manager Emma Yendell has submitted her concerns, which will be considered by the Park Authority’s board before they make their decision on the application.
The submission rightly raises concerns over the need for Flamingoland’s proposed monorail to cross the access road to the slipway at an appropriate height.
It points out that there is a lack of provision for long-term boat storage for any visitors proposing to stay staying at the proposed lodges and bring their own boat.
Concerns are also raised over disruption to the 3,500 launches using the slipway each year, including loss of trailer parking space and bottlenecks preventing vehicle access.
Local Green MSP Ross Greer, right, whose campaign has collected 32,000 objections to the plans, commented: “This submission is yet another demonstration of why these half-baked plans should be firmly rejected – and this time it’s the National Park itself which is raising concerns.
“The slipway is popular with thousands of visitors and locals alike who sail or swim in the loch. The Park Authority’s board must take their Estate Manager’s concerns over its future operation extremely seriously.
“There’s still time for local residents to protect Loch Lomond and object to Flamingoland’s destructive plans.
“You can do so directly on the National Park’s website or even easier, join the thirty two thousand people who have already used our objection portal at www.greens.scot/FlamingoLand”
Such is the incompetence and secrecy of the SNP controlled Scottish government and the Loch Lomond National Park Authority that whatever Flamingoland wants – and thousands of members of the public have made it clear that they do not – that few people would have been been surprised if this planning application were quietly approved.
So, well done to Ross Greer and to Emma Yendell, the Park’s own Estates Manager, for flagging this up now in order for the public to add their names to the protest against not just this monorail but to the whole Flamingoland plan which we feel would cheapen and degrade not just Balloch, but the whole of Loch Lomondside.
Meanwhile, in Dumbarton and Vale of Leven, West Dunbartonshire’s Labour-controlled council-owned sites set to be sold for more than £6 million, which they will hopefully put to good use to repaid some of the shambles left by their SNP predecessors.
The sales include a disused piece of land at Levenbank, Jamestown, and a site at Burroughs Way in the Vale of Leven (Strathleven) Industrial Estate.
Councillors have been told there are interested buyers for both sites, as well as smaller sites in Old Kilpatrick and Alexandria.
The Jamestown land, which was extensively marketed in February and March this year, has been bought by Turnberry Homes for circa £5 million, which will mean yet more houses and, of course, more council tax.
The housing developer intends to transform the overgrown and unused site into 88 residential units comprising a mix of two bedroom apartments; three bedroom semi- detached and four bedroom detached houses.
The land at Vale of Leven Industrial Estate will be sold to Muirfield Ltd for £950,000. The company intends to develop the site for warehousing and associated office and laboratories for food and drink production by their associated Company Tolsta Foods Ltd.
Both purchases are conditional on the buyer obtaining planning permission.
Councillors also approved the sale of 12 Overton Street, Alexandria, to McPherson Memorials, while land at the rear of Ferrydykes Cottage, Old Kilpatrick, was approved for sale to the owner of Ferrydykes Cottage, who intends to renovate the property and create a family home with garden space.
Members also gave the go ahead to dispose of 77 Bank Street, Alexandria, after tenant Citizen’s Advice Bureau requested to end its tenancy early and vacate as soon as possible.
The site was sold to Aldi UK and the supermarket chain intends to expand their car parking provision.
Councillor David McBride, above, said: “It is great to see that sites in West Dunbartonshire are in such high demand and the area is attracting investment from all over the country.
“Any investment here benefits the whole region, whether it’s the addition of new jobs, or new homes to attract people to move into the area, it all feeds into making West Dunbartonshire a better place to live, work and visit.”