THE developer behind plans for a business park and family pub/restaurant at the eastern edge of Helensburgh has shed more light on the proposals.

Rhu-based architect Malcolm Pearson spoke to the Advertiser after outline proposals for the site next to Iona Stables, immediately east of the town’s former Waitrose supermarket on Cardross Road, were published on Argyll and Bute Council’s website last week.

The application by Iceni Projects, is for ‘planning permission in principle’ – meaning that detailed proposals for how the site will be developed will only be brought forward if outline permission is granted.

A ‘planning and access statement’ in support of the early plans describes two three-storey office blocks, with space for between 400 and 600 workers, while the family pub and restaurant, located next to the A814 on the plans, would be built over two storeys.

Mr Pearson said: “We know there is office demand in Helensburgh. How much demand there is, we’re not sure at the moment.

READ MORE: More details revealed of plan for business park and pub/restaurant in Helensburgh

“If outline permission is granted, we will then submit a more detailed application at a later date with more information on what we think in terms of exact numbers.

“I know people are keen for a final answer but we need to be clear this is a long process – but also that it is a positive thing for Helensburgh.”

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many people working from home for the first time – but Mr Pearson says he doesn’t think that will last once people settle in to a post-lockdown ‘new normal’.

“I don’t believe the coronavirus situation will have a huge impact on demand for office space in the long term,” he continued.

“The Far East still has a booming office market despite having gone through two pandemics in recent years.

READ MORE: Plans for new Helensburgh business park at edge-of-town site to be lodged with council

“What I do think is that the pandemic may bring on the advancement of technology sooner; people won’t want to touch lift buttons or door handles for a wee while, for example.”

Mr Pearson also said that other uses for the site – which has been zoned for employment purposes in the council’s local development plan for some years – had been explored, including the potential for light industrial facilities, but no other alternatives were deemed appropriate for the area.

The plans are deemed a ‘major application’ in Argyll and Bute planning terms, and will therefore go before the authority’s planning, protective services and licensing committee for a decision – which, according to the council’s website, is expected by Friday, October 9.

The planning and access statement, prepared by Mosaic Architecture and Design, says that if outline permission is given, and a detailed planning application is also approved, the first phase of the development could be completed in the winter or early spring of 2021-22.

READ MORE: Helensburgh office development 'could create hundreds of jobs', says architect behind plans

The planning and access statement also says: “Demand has been identified for modern sustainable office space, of which there is an extremely restricted supply in the local area.

“This gateway site at the eastern entrance to Helensburgh is an ideal business park location with its road access, local amenities and public transport links.

“It is anticipated that demand would be identified for a family pub/restaurant development to service the business park occupiers and the growing population in this part of the town.

“At this stage it has been decided to only bring forward part of the site for redevelopment.

READ MORE: 'Lack of demand' blamed as plan for 60-bed hotel is dropped from Helensburgh development proposals

“Pre-application discussions indicate that Argyll and Bute Council are supportive of the principle of the proposed development.”

The site is located on the opposite side of the A814 from another planned development, on a site known as ‘Sawmill Field’, where housing developer Bellway Homes is seeking permission for 123 new houses and 20 flats.

The Advertiser understands that a decision on Bellway’s plans – which are the subject of a separate planning application – could be made this summer.

The business park proposals can be viewed online by searching the Planning section of Argyll and Bute Council's website for the planning reference code 20/00911/PPP.

The Bellway application for Sawmill Field can be viewed by searching for the code 19/02604/PP on the same site.

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