THE community group behind plans to repair Helensburgh's pier and construct a watersports lagoon along the West Bay esplanade say they're encouraged by the response to a public presentation on their plans – despite a slow response to an online 'crowdfunding' appeal.

As this article was published, the Helensburgh Seafront Development Project (HSDP) Crowdfunder appeal had raised £750 towards its hoped-for total of £25,000.

The crowdfunding appeal formed part of a presentation on HSDP's plans, held at Helensburgh Parish Church on August 31.

But while admitting they had hoped for a better response, HSDP vice-chairman Gerard Lindsay tod the Advertiser this week that the project team was still convinced it offered “an ideal solution” for the future of the pier.

Mr Lindsay said: “We were buoyed by the turnout for the presentation and the reaction was extremely positive.

“When speaking with people, both immediately after the event and in the following days, we were told of their fears that Helensburgh pier could end up similar to the ruin that Craigendoran pier has become.

“More positive and constructive comment came from people who have lived in other coastal communities, including those on the south coast of England.

“We were advised that these communities made the most of their piers and that they were the focal point of the towns.

“We received offers of expertise not only in technical areas of the project but also in relation to our marketing and how we continue to reinforce our message that the pier must be saved and that our project offers an ideal solution for the long-term survival of Helensburgh pier.

“The current total is £750. Whilst this is a good way off our target or £25,000, we appreciate those who have donated thus far.

“We would certainly have hoped for more. As we explained at the presentation, it is quite difficult to raise funds for a feasibility study.”

The HSDP committee intends to split its project into two phases – the first featuring repair and refurbishment work at the pier and mooring facilities, and the second an enclosed watersports lagoon and breakwater walkway to the west of the pier.

Mr Lindsay said that according to feedback given at, and after, the presentation, members of the public remained confused over the pier's ownership and the place of the pier in Argyll and Bute Council's £17 million Waterfront Development Project, which will see a new leisure centre built on the site of the town's current swimming pool and the current pier car park redeveloped.

Local politicians have welcomed the principles behind HSDP's plans, though some with more enthusiasm than others.

Council leader and Helensburgh Central councillor Aileen Morton said: “The HSDP proposals are very ambitious but it’s always good to see people think outside the box.

“Considering how ambitious and different phase two is, though, my view is that they might be better to focus much more on phase 1 at the moment.

“If they are able to successfully deliver the regeneration of the pier, moorings and so on then that will greatly increase their chances of being able to fund phase 2 as funders will have more confidence in their knowledge and experience.”

Depute council leader Gary Mulvaney, who also represents the Helensburgh Central ward, said he shared concerns expressed at the group's recent presentation about the viability of the scheme.

He said:“The council are already assisting the group with free access to some of the surveys we have already had to  commission for the waterfront development.

“Concerns were raised at the meeting about what the £25,000 fee for a feasibility study would actually provide for a £5-15 million project involving sub-sea construction.  

“There was also concern over the ongoing revenue to sustain the scheme and why, if it was such a good idea, the private sector had not become involved, and I share all these concerns. This idea has been around for a few years and it was a bit of surprise that only £1,500 has been raised by the group, but credit for their efforts.

“The priority for the council is the new pool, leisure centre and waterfront development.”

Helensburgh's MSP, Jackie Baillie, said: “I hope that Argyll and Bute Council and other statutory bodies will throw their weight behind the proposals. We need to work together to make progress for the benefit of Helensburgh as a whole and I am happy to assist in any way I can.”

West of Scotland MSP Maurice Corry, who also attended the August 31 presentation, added: “I am fully behind the Helensburgh Seafront Development Project.

“I hope that the council will look into rolling the project in with the main leisure seafront development which still currently in the design phase."