ARGYLL and Bute Council should not be held responsible for the predicted rising cost of delivering Helensburgh’s new waterfront leisure centre, it has been claimed.

Councillor Ellen Morton said delays in securing planning permission for the project were to blame – after a report raised concerns about the affordability of the new facility.

The document for the meeting of the environment, development and infrastructure committee, said that ‘value engineering’ options may have to be explored.

The council could spend up to £1.2m of the £19.5m budget for the leisure centre before a brick is laid, in order to see it through to full business case.

READ MORE: Report raises fears over Helensburgh waterfront affordability

Planning permission for the development was granted in January by the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee [PPSL].

The application was twice continued by PPSL members for further information – first at a public hearing in Helensburgh in November, and then at a regular PPSL meeting in December.

Councillor Morton said: “The indication is that building construction costs for the waterfront are increasing, which does not come as much of a surprise to any of us.

“We knew that it was a risk with the delay. The project manager was very clear when he identified the cost per week with each delay that occurred.

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

“It is very important that this is not seen as a criticism of the planning process. The council and PPSL need to go through the process – we can’t just say we are jumping through it.

“The community council objected repeatedly and refused to accept the reports from professional flooding experts. Because of that, there was a totally appropriate delay.

“It is important to recognise that the rising costs are something that officers identified months ago, we were all aware of it, and I am sure it will be managed appropriately when the tendering process starts.”

READ MORE: Helensburgh councillors 'thrilled' as waterfront finally gets planning permission

Pippa Milne, the council’s executive director of development and infrastructure, said in the report: “The main risk at present is the affordability of the works contract, where input prices for materials and fuels rose by 4.7 per cent in the year through January 2018.

“According to the Construction Products Association, 82 per cent of civil engineering contractors and 82 per cent of main construction contractors reported higher raw materials prices passing through the supply chain over the final quarter of 2017, with the expectation that 2018 would show a similar trend.”