A MAJOR concern over Helensburgh’s £18 million waterfront proposals could be resolved without the need to lodge a whole new planning application, the town’s community council has been told.

Members of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) are preparing new submissions to Argyll and Bute officials after the local authority’s planning committee opted, following a seven-hour hearing on November 19, to continue consideration of the waterfront plans to await new information on climate change forecasts.

The council’s application will come back before the committee at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Wednesday, December 19.

But HCC’s vice-convener, Peter Brown, told the community council recently that he believed one of HCC’s biggest worries – the siting of the new swimming pool and leisure centre at the south end of the pier head site, rather than alongside the pier itself – could be resolved without months of delay on a new application.

Dr Brown was speaking the day after high tides and strong winds lashed the pier head’s south car park – where the new leisure centre is currently planned to be located – with significant amounts of water and marine debris.

HCC member Roger Ferdinand asked: “My understanding is that should we be successful in persuading the committee that the new pool and leisure centre should not be built at the south end of the pier head site, it takes three months to put together a fresh planning application. Is that right?”

Dr Brown responded: “No. I have been informed by a planning official that the location being changed would not require a new planning application.

“Building the leisure centre alongside the pier, rather than at the south end of the site, would be in accordance with the revised 2012 Helensburgh Masterplan, which the council has accepted.

“There was a question at the hearing over whether building in that location would mean the current pool having to be demolished first: my understanding is that the 2012 masterplan said there could be a certain footprint built before the old building had to be demolished.

“Our preference is for the new centre to be constructed not within the footprint of the current building, and to be aligned with the pier.”

Dr Brown showed HCC members a picture taken by Ellen Renton, a resident of nearby Tower Place, showing the pier being battered by the previous day’s bad weather.

And Vivien Dance, a director of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, showed HCC a series of photos taken on West Clyde Street, and in the pier car park, during the same wet and windy spell.

Mrs Dance said: “If you saw the debris on the car park this morning, you would have seen the amount of debris that will be heading for the new pool, if it is built in that location, in the event of weather similar to what we saw yesterday.

“It’s worth checking if the relocation of the building would need a fresh planning application, because I understand that’s not what some councillors are being told.”

An Argyll and Bute spokeswoman said: “If the applicant determines to amend the application, a view on whether a fresh planning application was required would have to be taken once the details of any amendments were before the planning authority.

“Until amended proposals are clearly defined it is not possible to form a view on whether a fresh planning application would be required.”