HELENSBURGH Community Council claims Argyll and Bute officials are too busy to meet them to discuss flooding concerns around the town’s waterfront leisure centre plans.

Climate change forecasts were released by the Met Office earlier this week, showing that sea level predictions are due to increase.

Environment secretary Michael Gove said when releasing the data that he hoped more businesses would “be designing in resilience” when putting plans together for new buildings.

But in emails seen by the Advertiser, CHORD programme manager John Gordon has told Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) vice-convener Peter Brown the project team is "not in a position to meet" before the plans go back before councillors next month.

The application for the new centre is to due go back before Argyll and Bute’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee on Wednesday, December 19.

It was decided at a public hearing last week to continue the application after the council published documents stating that proposed flood defences would only last until 2030.

Dr Brown said: “This [the climate change forecast[ is highly relevant for the current Helensburgh waterfront development planning application because the PPSL committee last week voted for a continuation of the application due to concerns over flooding.

“Councillors were not satisfied that the proposed flood defences were sufficient to defend the leisure centre if it is placed right at the seaward end of the pierhead car park.

“Argyll and Bute Council’s flood risk adviser had already said, just before the hearing, that the new flood defences would only be good enough until 2030 and that was according to the old forecasts from 2009.

“Helensburgh community council has been concerned since A&BC proposed this location for the leisure centre that it leaves it vulnerable to future climate change.

“The new figures show that sea level forecasts are only increasing.

“We expect that the PPSL will want to see more certainty from the project team about the flood defences and, as a community, we should expect that the committee ensure the defences are designed to protect the leisure centre and its users for the lifetime of the building.”

Dr Brown and HCC colleagues contacted Mr Gordon to try to set up a meeting on flood defences for the proposed leisure centre before the PPSL committee next meets.

However, Mr Gordon advised that "we would not be in a position to meet with you as you have requested...simply because we could have a lot of work to do in a very short period of time" to get any revisions to the application ready for the December 19 meeting.

Dr Brown also expressed scepticism over the council’s commitment to a skate park facility at the site.

He added: “At the PPSL public hearing, the community council were encouraged to see the project team put up slides which showed a ‘temporary skatepark’ in the ‘blank’ area that has previously been marked as being left as rough gravel.

“These amended plans, though, are not on the council planning portal, and are therefore not part of the planning application at present.

“As we said at the hearing, the community has expressed a strong desire for a skate park but no commitment has yet been made by the project team.

“This is yet another false dawn for the skateboarders, and we don’t understand why it is so hard for Argyll and Bute Council to commit to a skate park as part of this £18m development.”

A council spokesman said: “The planning application complied with all the relevant regulations and guidance available at the time.

“We will reassess the proposals in light of the new climate change predictions published on November 26.

“In relation to the skate park, we are keen to work with the skaters on a temporary relocation proposal, to be considered by the planning, protective services and licensing committee in due course.”