HELENSBURGH campaigners have made a bold pitch to make the town's waterfront site fit for the whole community.

Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) submitted a formal bid to Argyll and Bute Council on Wednesday to transform the prime real estate between West Clyde Street and the leisure centre.

Five other mystery bidders were invited to outline their plans for the 5,380 square metres of land.

HCC gave the Advertiser exclusive access to their proposals in a process that remains largely behind closed doors.

Council officials have made no secret of wanting to sell the space for retail use, against the wishes of the public.

And the community council made repeated reference in their bid to seeking to deliver the will of the people.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Artist's impression of phase 1 of the Helensburgh waterfront siteArtist's impression of phase 1 of the Helensburgh waterfront site (Image: Helensburgh Community Council)

Twenty experts from different backgrounds answered HCC's call in the Advertiser last month and have been working at fever pitch to get the bid finished in time.

The team of volunteers will go up against the five other mystery corporate bidders.

In their bid, HCC called it Helensburgh Waterfront Community Space (HWCS) and said they would set up a trust with the same name to run it.

Their pitch states: "Our vision is to create a vibrant, sustainable community space that enriches life in Helensburgh by promoting health, supporting enterprise, and attracting visitors.

"We believe in the power of collaborative efforts. By partnering with local entrepreneurs, community groups, and public bodies, we aim to create a space that is a testament to an innovative, community-driven development.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Approximate layout of phase 1 of the Helensburgh waterfront siteApproximate layout of phase 1 of the Helensburgh waterfront site (Image: Helensburgh Community Council)

"We are committed to designing and managing a space that reflect the needs and aspirations of both Helensburgh's residents and visitors.

"Our approach is inclusive, ensuring that every aspect of our community space contributes positively to the town’s culture and fabric."

HCC said their plans were "low risk" for the council and that it would "add to the social fabric" of the town.

In the first phase, there were be a permanent skatepark, a public space, a water feature and play area, more parking spaces and dedicated bays for buses.

Parking spaces and a skatepark are both required by the council.

Instead of a large retail site that could block views and impact existing shops, HCC is pitching small units suited to entrepreneurs and more flexible to small local businesses. Those, they say would encourage small firms and potentially cater to visitors.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Another artist's impression of the waterfront siteAnother artist's impression of the waterfront site (Image: Helensburgh Community Council)

And tourism is a key feature, with a goal of bringing more full buses to the centre of the town.

Long term, HCC's desire to restore the pier with a pontoon to welcome cruise ship passengers could make Helensburgh a first entry point to Scotland.

A total of 3,780 square metres of the site would be for recreation, including a larger skate park than the previous one, event space and a bouldering area.

Another 850 square metres would be for parking. And less than a fifth - 950 square metres - would be for retail, split between a year-round retail village and a small pop-up retail space in a soft surface area for "temporary retail opportunities".

A new Helensburgh Waterfront Community Space Trust would own and run the site, with initial investment from the council, such as from the £20 million recently awarded to Argyll and Bute Council by the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund.

It is currently unknown if any of that money will ever benefit Helensburgh.

Speaking at the HCC meeting last week, acting convener Peter Brown said: "We have the opportunity to do this. We see this entire site, and the pier, as a central part of the whole, and it's important we don't lose site of that.

"We're taking a phased approach, so it's viable, sustainable and flexible."

Community councillor Polly Jones said of the bid: "It's amazing the hours and efforts people have put in as volunteers. It's brilliant. It's a great effort. We should be really proud."

Mr Brown added: "The experts that the town has brought together continues to amaze me."

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: "Following the closing date, our consultants will prepare a report on proposals received from interested parties. We expect to review this early in the New Year.

"We will then make a decision on when the report will go to committee.”