THE long-awaited conversion of Helensburgh’s former municipal buildings, into a restaurant, bar and delicatessen, could be completed by spring next year, the Advertiser has learned.

The category B listed properties on the corner of East Princes Street and Sinclair Street have been the subject of development proposals since a planning application was lodged with Argyll and Bute Council by Peckham’s in 2016.

The Glasgow-based food firm, run by Tony Johnston, also plans to create six flats on the upper floors of the site, along with function suites, but the project has been delayed due to structural fears over the condition of the premises, which are thought to have lain empty since 1996.

READ MORE: Deli and restaurant firm eyes new use for Helensburgh town centre building

The buildings used to house the old town council and a police station, and Argyll and Bute Council confirmed this week that the sale had been completed and the new owners are now free to get renovation work up and running.

A council spokesperson said: “The sale of the former municipal buildings to Peckham’s Investments Limited has recently been concluded and we are looking forward to seeing the property being refurbished and opened for business by the new owners.”

Mr Johnston, founder and managing director of the restaurant chain, said he was delighted to have finally sealed the deal.

Two Peckham’s stores in Glasgow’s west end closed last year, prompting speculation that the Helensburgh venture might fall through, however, the business will be rebooted in a matter of months in a move which will also give an important town centre premises a new lease of life.

READ MORE: Peckham's Helensburgh plans 'still on course' as town businessmen buy firm's Glasgow stores

Mr Johnston said: “As you can appreciate it is a large project set in an impressive listed building.

“Our first role is to make the building wind and watertight then proceed with the careful removal of non-original features before full refurb commences.

“I’m sure there will be surprises along the way, some pleasant, others not so, but that is all part of restoration.

“The project is split into two main phases; restaurant and bar, function suite and private dining - phase one.

“Phase two; retail and accommodation. We have targeted phase one completion for late spring 2020.”

READ MORE: Peckham's plans for Helensburgh given green light by officials

Vivien Dance, chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, also praised the positive news.

She said: "The Chamber of Commerce welcomes the news that Peckham’s have secured the purchase of this prime site and will now begin the redevelopment of this historic building; this is really good news for the town.

"We are confident that Peckham’s will inject new life into the building which has played a central role in Helensburgh for decades and develop yet another successful business which will bring more visitors and spend into the town centre.

"This is another sign of the confidence in the future of Helensburgh and the chamber looks forward to having another reason to celebrate commerce in the town at the opening next year.

"Our message is clear: Peckham’s, you are very welcome to Helensburgh and the chamber looks forward to working with you to promote the town in the years ahead."