HELENSBURGH is running out of time to show its support for an ambitious community plan to redevelop the west end of the town’s seafront.

That’s the warning issued this week by the local businessman who chairs the Helensburgh Seafront Development Project.

Ian MacQuire told the Advertiser that a public presentation on the project, to be held later this month, is the community’s “last chance” to back the scheme, which was first unveiled in 2014.

Mr MacQuire and his colleagues are hoping to secure £25,000 to fund a feasibility study into the project, which aims to repair the town’s pier head and create an enclosed lagoon for watersports in the West Bay, within a new breakwater and walkway.

Other features of the plan include dredging of the area around the pier head, a partially covered walkway along the pier, and the creation of a small marina on the east side of the pier.

Members of the public will have the chance to hear the latest on the project at a presentation at Helensburgh Parish Church on Thursday, August 31.

Mr MacQuire said: “We’ve been trying for 18 months to get this feasibility study off the ground and this is the last chance.

“If we don’t get the backing of the community now that’ll be it – we’ve put enough money into this already and people need to step forward and help us out.

“We’re trying to pull on the heartstrings a wee bit to get people behind the project. We’re the only ones who have come up with any plan to regenerate the seafront in the last 15-20 years.”

Mr MacQuire said the HSDP team currently had only £1,500 in the bank to put towards the feasibility study, raised through individual contributions and fundraising events, but had plans to apply to several outside funders for the rest of the cash.

But he criticised Argyll and Bute Council for its lack of interest in supporting the scheme, saying the local authority was only interested in its own development project.

“The council gave us a third sector grant towards the cost of the study,” he said, “but we’ve had to hand it back, even though we had an assurance that as long as we submitted the correct forms and had a quote from [consultancy firm] Aecom we could keep it.

The council’s scheme – the £17 million Helensburgh Waterfront Project – will see a new leisure centre and swimming pool built on the site of the existing facility, along with improved flood defences, additional public spaces, a walkway, lighting and artwork around the pier head.

Building work on the council’s project is expected to start in July 2019 – a year later than originally planned – with the new leisure centre opening its doors two years later.

Mr MacQuire said: “I think the council is hoping we’ll just go away, but there’s not a chance of that. We’ve been too nice so far but if we keep being nice it won’t happen.

“It’s annoying to see the money being spent on the council’s project and the money they’re spending on Hermitage Park – which won’t bring nearly as many visitors to the town as our project.

“What we want to do will actually save the council a fortune. We’ve been trying for 18 months to get the council to support us and they won’t give us any help.”

Councillor Ellen Morton, who chairs Argyll and Bute’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee, said: “The committee gave Mr MacQuire a third sector grant towards his business case but it was conditional on him getting the rest of the money – and as with all third sector grants, if you can’t deliver on your proposal within that financial year you have to give the money back.

“I’m not at all opposed to his project, and I hope it succeeds, but it is potentially a massively expensive scheme, and if he hasn’t raised whatever he needs for his feasibility study I’m not sure how he’s going to secure the funds needed for the project.

“My priority has always been the council’s waterfront project.

“We had already started work on the waterfront project long before Mr MacQuire appeared with his plan.

“I asked him to consider working with the council but he wasn’t interested in doing that.”

A group of Burgh councillors is set to pay a fact-finding visit to the new leisure centre on Clydebank’s waterfront on Friday.