Feb 24 2012 by Tina Kemp, Lennox Herald (main ed)
A RADICAL new vision has been unveiled for Helensburgh as the battle rages over the best way to secure the town’s future.
Helensburgh – a Strategic Vision – was drawn up by leading firm Gareth Hoskins Architects.
Mr Hoskins, a Helensburgh resident, believes the plans offer a viable and sustainable long-term vision for the seaside town which is at the centre of several proposed controversial developments.
They include a stunning pierhead development mix of leisure and retail, an environmental Housing Expo scheme and the enhancement of facilities on Sinclair Street.
They were unveiled as Argyll and Bute councillors and members of the public gathered yesterday (Tuesday) to debate an application by Waitrose for a 36,000 square feet foodstore and petrol station on the outskirts of the town.
Mr Hoskins fears the Waitrose plan has the potential to jeopardise future investment and development within Helensburgh and lead to the gradual decline of the town centre.
The strategy – produced independently by his Glasgow-based practice – sets out an alternative as to how Helensburgh could be “redeveloped to provide for the different public, retail and housing needs, create a vibrant town centre and offer a considered and sustainable future for the town, its surrounding area, and its inhabitants”.
Mr Hoskins has urged Argyll and Bute Council to take forward the proposals which he say engage with the views of the wider public and will put Helensburgh back on the map.
The vision proposes siting new retail within the town centre to avoid negative long-term effects on the town and wider community.
The pierhead site would house a new swimming pool and leisure facility, retail units, a landscaped rooftop public space with viewing deck and a cafe. The building would be set back to allow the West Esplanade to connect through to the clock tower and to maintain views to the Clyde.
The Environmental Housing Expo at the former Hermitage Academy site would focus on the realistic delivery of environmentally designed affordable housing.
It has been drawn up in conjunction with the Scottish Government, Homes for Scotland and key local parties.
The vision also includes proposals to enhance the “central spine” of Sinclair Street to create a draw that will pull visitors down into the town.
This includes the linking and opening up of Hermitage Park and the Victoria Halls to create a new leisure and community arts facility, a children’s play park and a new skatepark.