HELENSBURGH businesses and community groups will have their chance to shape the future of the town's waterfront at drop-in engagement sessions in the town over the next two days.

Argyll and Bute Council has organised the events after concerns were raised earlier this month that some groups in the town had not been asked for their views on the site's future.

The local authority is holding an engagement exercise on what the future should hold for the area on the landward site of the waterfront site - which has lain empty since the demolition of the town's former swimming pool was completed last year.

The 1.38-acre site has been earmarked by the council for retail development - sparking concern at the impact a large new store could have on existing independent businesses in the town centre, though the authority's depute leader, Helensburgh councillor Gary Mulvaney, said last year that the site would not be occupied by a single large retailer.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

The council's Helensburgh and Lomond area committee heard claims earlier this month that while some groups had been invited to take part in the engagement process - such as Helensburgh Community Council and Plastic Free Helensburgh - others, including the Helensburgh Skatepark Project and the Friends of Hermitage Park, had not.

Nine expressions of interest have been submitted to the council for potential development of the site - often referred to as 'the grey area', since it was marked out in grey in original plans for the overall waterfront development.

One of those expressions of interest has come from the community council itself - which expressed a "desire to maximise the potential of the site for the youth of Helensburgh" and "a desire to have additional retail facilities, but not on this site".

That expression of interest was lodged after a survey by the community council, attracting more than 1,000 responses, found the community overwhelmingly backed using the site for leisure use - with only a quarter favouring a large retail development.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

A second idea from the community has proposed a 'Helensburgh Lighthouse' for the site.

Other expressions of interest have suggested retail development, eateries, community use, an EV charging hub and a hotel.

The identities of the remaining groups or individuals to have expressed an interest have yet to be made public, but several are understood to have come from the third sector.

The engagement sessions take place at the Helensburgh and Lomond Civic Centre in East Clyde Street: the first will be held tonight (Thursday, June 22), from 6-8pm, with the second taking place on Friday, June 23 from 12 noon until 2pm.

Those interested in attending are being asked to register their interest in advance by emailing Helensburghwaterfrontdevelopment@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

Helensburgh Advertiser: How the site looked prior to the start of work on the waterfront's redevelopmentHow the site looked prior to the start of work on the waterfront's redevelopment (Image: Tom Watt)

A council spokesperson previously said: "The significant level of investment from the council in Helensburgh has stimulated a high calibre of private sector interest who share our vision of transforming the waterfront into a vibrant space.

“The development will provide an additional boost to the local economy, creating employment and leisure opportunities for residents and visitors.

“Included in the submissions are household retail names, food outlets, community proposals, an EV charging hub and hotel.”