NEW retail space at Helensburgh’s waterfront site will help the town become as self-sufficient as possible, a report has said.

A retail study on the town, published by Colliers International Property Consultants, has concluded there is space for an additional supermarket in the town centre - despite the presence of the Co-op’s store in Sinclair Street.

Work is currently ongoing among Argyll and Bute Council officers to establish the best candidate for the vacant site in front of Helensburgh Leisure Centre.

Helensburgh Community Council is known to be one of five parties in the running; the identities of the others have not been made public.

The Colliers study said: “The retail landscape has changed considerably during the last decade due to shifting consumer habits driven by the rise of internet shopping and accelerated more recently by the global pandemic.

“Consequently, demand for retailers to acquire space in smaller towns such as Helensburgh has been weakened considerably, with demand being very much focused on the major retail hubs of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Helensburgh Advertiser: The site outlined in red has been earmarked for potential retail developmentThe site outlined in red has been earmarked for potential retail development (Image: Argyll and Bute Council)

“However, assuming the correct floorplates can be created, there will be a degree of demand, most notably from the discount and food store sectors, who require modern purpose-built units which are generally of a smaller scale than superstores and therefore potentially easily integrated into the Waterfront site.”

A list of potential new suitors for the waterfront site follows, including Aldi, Lidl and M&S Simply Food.

However, M&S has previously denied having an interest in the site.

The report continued: “It is also worth noting that the bigger supermarket (food store) operators listed above are now promoting new smaller convenience formats for town centre locations.

READ MORE: Local, national and international bidders in running for Helensburgh waterfront site

"Whilst the Co-op have an existing presence in Helensburgh town centre, from a market viewpoint it is believed there is capacity for an additional operator.

“The waterfront site is the most obvious town centre opportunity for new retail development in Helensburgh.

"The currently vacant site could provide an opportunity for a mixed convenience and comparison development.

“This could assist in providing opportunities for the retailers identified above who cannot currently locate in the town, as the provision of their required size of retail unit is not presently available.

“There have not been any specific discussions with individual retailers about the possibility of locating in Helensburgh (as Argyll and Bute Council are undertaking their own exercise in this regard).

Helensburgh Advertiser: The development site has been empty since the demolition of the old Helensburgh Swimming Pool following completion of the town's new leisure centreThe development site has been empty since the demolition of the old Helensburgh Swimming Pool following completion of the town's new leisure centre (Image: Newsquest)

"However, from discussions with Colliers retail agents, it would appear that modern retailers prefer to locate in a retail scheme with an anchor tenant, in retail units which meet their trading and servicing requirements.

“A successful scheme will provide a mixture of retail unit sizes which provide the opportunity for mezzanine provision, with good visibility, access and car parking.”

In conclusion, the report said: “It is considered that the provision of new modern retail floorspace at the Helensburgh waterfront site will assist in ensuring the town become as self-sufficient as possible, especially in relation to retailing provision, reclaiming leaked expenditure and complementing the other retail offer and supporting the various services provided within the town centre.

"Additional retailers of the type identified in the market assessment provided in this retail study will add a further dimension to the shaping and improving Helensburgh town centre.

“The potential to reduce the need to travel outside the Helensburgh area for food shopping will be a major benefit for the town centre as a whole, due to the potential spin-off effects of increased footfall, both in terms of volume of visitors and length of time they will stay in the town centre.”