HELENSBURGH’S £18 million waterfront redevelopment may finally have planning permission – but it could be another two months before the consequences of the two-month delay in granting approval finally become clear.

The decision by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee to grant approval for the town’s new leisure centre and swimming pool, along with improved flood defences and revamped parking facilities, was made two months after a public hearing to consider the plans, held at Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls.

The authority’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee was warned last month that the project was already 12 weeks behind – and that the delays were costing an estimated £25,000 per week.

READ MORE: Helensburgh waterfront plans win planning approval

But the next progress report on the project is not due to be given until the area committee’s first meeting of 2019 – scheduled for Thursday, March 21.

A council spokesman said this week: “We are delighted that planning permission has been granted and we’re keen to get work started as soon as possible.

“Work is ongoing on procurement and contracts and a full report will be provided to the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee in March.”

The delays were largely caused by ongoing concerns over the flood risk to the building, raised repeatedly by Helensburgh Community Council, which led to the authority’s planning, protective services and licensing committee deciding twice to defer a decision to seek further information.

READ MORE: Helensburgh waterfront delays 'could cost £300,000'

The area committee’s chair, Councillor Ellen Morton, said: “The project is around 12 weeks behind schedule and the delay is not ideal – there is no point pretending otherwise.

“We had to spend quite a bit of money bringing in additional flooding expertise to assure the community council and the planning committee.

“But we will make every effort to claw back as much of that lost time, and increased cost, as we can.

“Budgets always have to be adjusted for any major project and this one will be no different.

“But we have our marine licence and construction permits in place and as far as we’re concerned it’s full steam ahead.

“The biggest danger as a result of the time slippage is keeping the existing pool going – it’s already well past its sell-by date, and we have always been open about that.

“The cost of keeping the existing pool open until the new one is ready will not have an impact on the budget for the waterfront.

“As far as humanly possible, we will keep the old pool going until the new one is operational – that has always been a key commitment from the council, and that will not change.”

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The last progress report on the overall project was presented to the area committee in June 2018 – before the planning application was lodged – and stated that the leisure centre was due to be complete and operational by July 2021, with the demolition of the old pool and associated public realm works scheduled to be finished by December of that year.

That update also advised that procurement of the contractor for the main works on the site would run from January to May of this year, with construction due to start this July.