This week's Councillor Column is written by David Kinniburgh, Conservative councillor for Helensburgh and Lomond South and Argyll and Bute's policy lead on planning matters.

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ARGYLL and Bute Council is currently carrying out a consultation, which has been running since May 1, to consider a proposal to have Helensburgh town centre designated as a conservation area.

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 consultation follows an analysis which all planning authorities are required to do from time to time under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997, to determine which of their areas meet the criteria for designation as an area of special architectural or historic interest.

READ MORE: Public asked to share views on plan for new Helensburgh conservation area

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.

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 and in turn how this has created opportunities to access additional investment from other heritage led funding sources, in addition to CARS funding of £5,041,481.

READ MORE: Opinion: Conservation cash could be a huge boost for Helensburgh

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

The area of the proposed conservation area, which includes 20 listed buildings within Helensburgh town centre, can be viewed on the council website at


That’s where you’ll also find the link to take part in the consultation which is open until Wednesday, June 12.

READ MORE: Helensburgh business chiefs' anger at conservation area plans

Helensburgh already has two conservation areas – Upper Helensburgh and 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, 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.