HELENSBURGH residents are being encouraged to take part in consultations on making the town centre a conservation area as soon as possible.

The exercise, being conducted by Argyll and Bute Council, closes on Wednesday, June 12, having run since the start of May.

The proposed scheme would see a large area between James Street and Maitland Street, and as far north as King Street, designated as a conservation area – a move which could attract millions of pounds in public funding.

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Members of the council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee almost unanimously backed the proposal to go to consultation in April.

Councillor David Kinniburgh, the authority’s policy lead for planning matters and a Helensburgh and Lomond South ward councillor, said: “The definition of a conservation area is ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.

“The analysis was undertaken in support of an application to Historic Environment Scotland [HES] for Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme [CARS] funding, submitted on the basis that there would appear to be merit for a conservation area.

“If, after the consultation, the area were to be designated as a conservation area, then the application to the value of £1.5m would be determined by HES in the early part of 2020 – and if successful, the project would deliver substantial repairs to targeted buildings over a five year period.

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“In recent years, as part of our regular training programme, members of the planning, protective services and licensing committee have had the opportunity to visit other town centre conservation areas in Argyll and Bute to learn how they have benefitted from CARS funding.

“[They have also heard] how this has created opportunities to access additional investment from other heritage led funding sources, in addition to CARS funding of £5,041,481.

“Rothesay, Campbeltown, Inveraray, Lochgilphead and Dunoon have all benefited from additional investments of more than £8million in heritage-led funding.”

The proposed conservation area includes 20 listed buildings and can be viewed online at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk

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Councillor Kinniburgh added: “Helensburgh already has two conservation areas – Upper Helensburgh and The Hill House.

“The latter is obviously creating a lot of interest at the moment with the completion of the Hill House ‘box’, which I believe will attract many visitors to the town.

“[This will be] with the unique experience it will offer of allowing visitors access via a series of walkways to parts of the building normally out of reach with its walkways.”

To take part in the consultation, click here.