HELENSBURGH Community Council has hit back at accusations it is to blame for increased concern at the affordability of the town’s £19 million waterfront redevelopment.

A report to Argyll and Bute Council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, by executive director Pippa Milne, said the project’s overall budget will be affected “due to the delay in securing planning approval following community council objections to the planning hearing”.

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At last week’s committee meeting in Lochgilphead, Helensburgh councillor Ellen Morton backed up that view, stating that Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) had “objected repeatedly” to the planning application for the waterfront site.

But at HCC’s monthly meeting, held on the same day as the committee considered Ms Milne’s report, the community council’s vice-convener, Peter Brown, said it was “disingenuous” to claim that HCC’s objections could significantly affect the project’s budget.

Dr Brown told HCC members that planning approval was actually granted in January, only a month later than the original forecast to the council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee, given in June last year, and therefore that the planning process had not been a significant delay to the overall plan.

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Dr Brown said “The report in front of this week’s committee is disingenuous in claiming that the community council’s objections could affect the project budget by one per cent, or even 1.5 per cent.

“In fact, the council’s planning committee approved additional sea defences for the project just one month after their original forecast, which would add about 0.1 per cent, around £24,000, in inflation costs to their £19.5m budget.

“Yet, without explanation, their revised timeline now has the pool completing a full four months later than originally planned.

“It also appears that the council are preparing the ground to say that their original budget is insufficient for many other reasons than the single month of planning approval delay.

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“The community will be rightly concerned if the council’s proposed ‘value engineering’ is to reduce the features or quality of this development.

“Instead, the council should be reconsidering their decision to place the building at the most vulnerable location on the site, which has raised the sea defence costs alone to more than £2m.”