A RECENT Advertiser editorial suggested that even the supporters of the waterfront application were lukewarm about it.

I can assure you, and all the Advertiser’s readers, that I am not the least bit lukewarm in my support for the project which will go before the council’s planning committee for a decision later this month.

I firmly believe that this is a marvellous opportunity for Helensburgh and Lomond, and that we should be grasping it with enthusiasm.

Everyone who supports this planning application needs to write to, or email, the planning department of Argyll and Bute Council to register their support.

If they don’t, the hopes going back many years that new life can be breathed into Helensburgh’s waterfront could face yet more years of delay.

Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) has claimed that there was no proper consultation on the proposals, because officers and councillors started with their own fixed ideas. That is categorically not true.

We started with what we had already been told local people wanted and did not want over the last 20 years of trying to improve this important site.

HCC conducted a survey, and the majority of participants supported the design of the building and its proposed location.

Councillors and officials knew that the Helensburgh public did not want a supermarket, or housing, or a multi storey car park, or any form of high rise development. These ideas have been tested and rejected.

We knew they wanted the swimming pool retained in the town centre but wanted the current pool kept in use until the new one was ready so that the town was not left, even on a temporary basis, with no swimming pool.

We knew that they wanted as much parking retained as possible and a provision to allow a skatepark to be developed on the site.

All of this influenced our starting position because we began with the 2009 Masterplan – further updated in 2012 after long consultation.

We then started a genuine consultation on the detail of how to deliver these public aspirations, beginning with focus groups and a pre-application consultation prior to submitting the current application.

Please allow me to list some of the benefits of this application and why I am asking people to support it.

There will be vastly improved disabled access to the whole site, and 21st-century facilities which will allow people with severe mobility problems to access swimming in Helensburgh for the first time, including a Changing Places facility similar to the one in Clydebank – contrary to Helensburgh Community Council’s claim that we do not provide that.

The proposed leisure facilities include a studio pool 16.6 metres by eight metres, much larger than our current splash pool and big enough to allow for warm-ups and training, along with two new studio rooms, a greatly enhanced gym suite and a cafe.

They will be far better than we currently have as will be the space for spectators; we will provide a space allocated for a permanent skatepark and work with our skaters to help them find funding which they are confident they can do provided they have a site and council support.

The new building will support the vitality and vibrancy of the town and make Helensburgh a more attractive place for people to live and work.

So my message to the people of Helensburgh and Lomond is a very simple one – if you want a new pool/leisure centre/skatepark and this eyesore of a site improved, then write or email planning.handl@argyll-bute.gov.uk, saying that you support this application – or we may still be in this position for years to come.