Argyll and Bute

Kilmartin Museum and former Gleaner Oil site revamps given council support

Proposals for the former Gleaner Oil site

Proposals for the former Gleaner Oil site

The former Gleaner Oil site in Ardrishaig is one step closer to being brought back to life as a waterfront community and businesses hub after Argyll and Bute Council agreed funding from its Tarbert and Lochgilphead Regeneration Fund.

Members of the council’s policy and resources committee agreed to contribute up to £250,000 to help deliver the first phase of the ambitious project to redevelop the derelict oil site, in partnership with Scottish Canals.

The first phase of the project will see the redevelopment of the ‘Egg Shed’ building including a new extension and the former garage. It is intended that these buildings will be available for a range of uses including exhibition space focusing on the heritage of the area and the Canal. There will also be new parking facilities and improved walking and cycling links.

The local authority has also agreed £400,000 of capital funding to help with the redevelopment of an important archaeological museum.

The £6.7 million proposal to redevelop Kilmartin Museum will provide more space to curate its expanding collection.

Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “The council is determined to work in partnership with Scottish Canals and the community to deliver projects that will create jobs and help to grow the population of the area, which will help boost our local economy.

“The redevelopment of the redundant and derelict Gleaner site has been championed by the local people and is designed to provide a focus for the community and attract more visitors to the area.

“There is no doubt that it will contribute to the wider regeneration of the Mid Argyll area as well as providing economic opportunities for the local community. I look forward to seeing it being realised and making a real difference to Mid Argyll.”

Kilmartin Glen is regarded as an internationally important archaeological location, where some of the most important prehistoric archaeological objects in Scotland have been found.

Kilmartin Museum is located at the heart of Kilmartin Glen and offers a facility for those interested in the landscape and cultural heritage of Mid Argyll and indeed Scotland. The museum staff also collect and care for archaeological artefacts from across Argyll and Bute. However, the current museum building is no longer regarded as being fit for purpose, by the registered Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Applications for funding have been submitted to a number of other organisations, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, and it is expected to be confirmed during the spring 2018 whether these have been successful.

Councillor Aileen Morton added: “Kilmartin Glen and Museum are incredibly important to Argyll and Bute and the wider area attracting visitors from all over the world. The museum offers archaeology and landscape interpretation, investigations, heritage and cultural activity.

“Members of the committee recognised that this is a challenging project and there is still considerable work to be done to secure all the necessary funding which includes a substantial financial contribution from the council.

“We are also happy to continue to support the museum in helping it access other sources of funding to provide a world-class facility.”

Plan to enclose Mackintosh’s Hill House beneath 60ft protective veil

Carmody-Groarke-Marckintosh-Hill-House-Conservation-gardenThe National Trust for Scotland has unveiled plans to cover Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh with a 60 feet tall enclosure amidst mounting concern for the building’s structural integrity.

Architects at Carmody Groarke have been commissioned to create what the Trust calls “a colossal yet sublime” enclosure to protect the property from the elements and provide conservationists with a much-needed breathing space to devise longer-term solutions.

Hill House is one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most significant works, one of Scotland’s most acclaimed buildings, and a seminal part of early 20th century European architecture. The building has had huge influence on architecture and design in Scotland, Europe and globally.

Built in 1928, 30km west of Glasgow, the unusual hybridisation of tradition and invention in the construction of the building has led to some fundamental long-term problems that require a major conservation project to help the house survive.

Carmody-Groarke-Marckintosh-Hill-House-Conservation-side0currentAs an integral part of this process of conservation which will take up to 12 years, the project proposes a ‘big-box’ museum to contain and protect the Hill House as an ‘artefact’.

The new museum’s architectural identity will be a huge, abstracted garden pavilion drying-shed covered entirely with a perforated mesh. This semi-permanent enclosure provides basic shelter to the original house whilst its rain-soaked existing walls are deconstructed to allow their fabric to fully dry out. This delicate enclosure will also allow uninterrupted views, night-and-day, to-and-from the landscape to Mackintosh’s architectural icon.

Within this safe, sheltered construction working territory, the “museum” will provide a remarkable public visitor experience of the conservation in progress, achieved by an elevated walkway which loops around the Hill House at high level.

Andy Groarke of Carmody Groarke said: “The National Trust of Scotland are adopting a very bold approach to the conservation of the Hill House; one that is radical and experimental in seeking new methods to extend the lifespan of our heritage, and one that invites public interaction and interpretation of these processes.”

The enclosure could be in place next year subject to a New Year fundraising drive and could remain in-situ for years thereafter.

Council completes sale of former Hermitage Academy site in Helensburgh

Taylor Wimpey's designs for land at the former Hermitage Academy site

Taylor Wimpey’s designs for land at the former Hermitage Academy site

Construction work to deliver 95 new homes at the former Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh is to start within the next few weeks after the site was sold to a national housebuilder.

Argyll and Bute Council has granted planning permission for the development of two, three and four bedroom family homes following the sale of the site to Taylor Wimpey West Scotland.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Argyll and Bute Council’s policy lead for strategic finance and capital regeneration programme, said: “This is fantastic news for the area. There are already over 50 houses and flats on another part of the site and when construction of the new homes by Taylor Wimpey West Scotland gets underway there will be a significantly increased supply of houses made available for local people and, others hoping to move to this area.

“As a council we are committed to working with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland to support our local economy and community by creating and supporting local jobs and apprenticeships.

“The funds from the sale will benefit our communities by going directly to providing services they tell us are important to them. I would also express my thanks to the council team who worked so hard to make this sale happen.”

Stephen Andrew, technical director for Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, said: “We are delighted to confirm that we have completed our land transaction for the former Hermitage Academy site on Cardross Road with Argyll and Bute Local Council, which will allow us to build our first development in Helensburgh.

“We hope to begin pre-construction works within the next few weeks and naturally we will keep the local community informed of our planned site start that will mark the first milestone of this exciting development.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing forward a development that offers buyers a great choice of new family homes in range of sizes and styles to appeal to a broad range of buyers. Securing this development marks our ongoing commitment, investment and strong track record of delivering excellent quality developments of family homes right across the west of Scotland.”

CBC wins £10.6m contract to restore Rothesay Pavilion

galleryThe multi-million pound restoration of Rothesay Pavilion is moving forward with the £10.6 million contract for the works being awarded to main contractor CBC.

Work on renovating the iconic International Modernist building to its former glory will start today.

The Grade A listed building will be transformed into a hub for cultural and community use and is expected to employ over 30 people and attract over 70,000 visits per year.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, depute leader of Argyll and Bute Council and the council’s policy lead for strategic finance and capital regeneration programme, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “It’s fantastic to see the main construction phase of this ambitious project about to get underway and the people of Rothesay can look forward to seeing work on the renovations of the wonderful pavilion starting.

“As a council we are determined to make a real difference to the area by bringing both tourists and new jobs to the area and with our partners have invested millions of pounds to bring our pavilion back to life.

“We will be working closely with the main contractor, CBC, to ensure that wherever possible there are opportunities to provide jobs, apprenticeships and support to the local community.”

stairsThe restored pavilion will house a purpose designed exhibition area; shop selling local produce; café/restaurant selling local food and drink; revamped main hall to accommodate a range of events including music, theatre, dance, sports, weddings and various community uses; second venue for smaller performances of music, comedy, family celebrations and community use; new top floor meeting/function room and three new offices and a workhub in the former caretaker’s house at the rear of the site which will provide three independent offices for local businesses along with a shared meeting room and office resources.

James McAlpine, managing director of CBC, said: “We feel very privileged to be working on such a beautiful and iconic building that is so rich in heritage. We are very experienced in conserving historic and listed buildings and look forward to restoring the stunning pavilion to its former glory for the local community.

“We are also committed to ensuring that the people who live on the island feel part of the Rothesay Pavilion project and can contribute to, and reap rewards from, this new chapter in the Pavilion’s history.”

Julia Twomlow, chief executive and artistic director of Rothesay Pavilion Charity, which will operate the facility when it re-opens, added: “Rothesay Pavilion Charity is delighted that the main phase of construction works is about to start. It is going to be wonderful to see the building transform over the coming months and we look forward to working with CBC to ensure that the community are able to engage with the project and benefit from the work and training opportunities it will bring.”

Over 760 new affordable homes planned for Argyll and Bute

Argyll-and-ButeArgyll and Bute Council has revealed plans to build more than 760 new affordable homes in the next five years.

The housing will be delivered as part of the council’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP).

Up to £50 million has been approved by the Scottish Government to support the programme in its first three years, while the council will contribute almost £9m from its Strategic Housing Fund and a further £1.9m a year over the next four years.

The 760 new homes are being built in addition to the 154 affordable homes already being provided this year as part of the SHIP process.

Policy lead for housing, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “Access to good-quality, affordable housing is a major priority for us.

“We aim to deliver on this ambitious development programme with our partners to ensure a positive future for our communities.

“Not only will this proposed plan provide new homes for residents who need it, we hope it will bring a host of other benefits for Argyll and Bute.

“These include generating investment, boosting the local economy, creating additional jobs including new apprenticeships, stimulating community regeneration, and attracting and retaining residents and employees for local businesses.

“Having a quality, affordable home to live in also benefits the general health and wellbeing of our residents.

“Our target as set out in the SHIP is 550 but we are confident we can expand on that, which is why we are aiming for more.”

Robertson secures £13m work on Scottish Sea Farms’ smolt hatchery

salmon-2326479_960_720Scottish Sea Farms’ £37 million investment in a state of the art onshore hatchery is moving forward with construction now underway at its site near Oban.

The hatchery, at Barcaldine, will increase capacity and deliver significant sustainability benefits to the company, supporting salmon farms on the west coast of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland.

Robertson Northern has now started construction on the £13m freshwater Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) for the aquaculture firm, which will rear young Scottish salmon to help meet growing global demand.

When completed, the overall hatchery will raise the company’s smolt production from five million to up to 11 million annually, creating 25 new jobs for the area.

Jim Gallagher from Scottish Sea Farms said: “This is a significant investment in our freshwater capacity and is a vital component to helping us meet the world’s increasing demand for premium Scottish salmon.

“Robertson Northern have demonstrated that they have the right skills to help deliver what is a landmark development for Scottish Sea Farms and for Scottish aquaculture.”

Frank Reid, managing director of Robertson Northern, said: “This is a revolutionary development in every sense of the word and an exciting development for both Scottish Sea Farms and the local economy.

“As well as creating jobs when complete, we will be using the skilled local workforce whenever we can throughout the development of this facility.”

The first fish reared in the facility are expected to be transferred to Marine farms in 2019.

Scottish Sea Farms said the investment was part of plans to invest a total of £70m in improving and maintaining its existing sites and acquiring new ones over the next few years.

Local authorities launch roads maintenance initiative

A9 Kincraig-Dalraddy - finishing touches to first section of new roadA new roads maintenance initiative has been launched between eight councils in Scotland.

The Northern Roads Collaboration Forum involves local authorities working together to share staff, equipment and properties to improve the repair and maintenance of roads, as well as reduce costs.

Councils involved include Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Comharlie nan Eilean Siar and Moray councils.

Talks will now to take place to enter into a formal collaboration.

Argyll and Bute’s policy lead for roads and amenity services, Councillor Roddy McCuish, said: “We’ve had an informal arrangement for some time with other councils.

“This has worked well, helping us increase our capacity to carry out design and to do repairs and maintenance, and also helping us to reduce our costs, which is good news for local people as well as the council.

“By making it a more formal arrangement, we can take this a step further. It will give us new opportunities to pool resources, upskill staff, encourage new people to work in this area and increase local employment opportunities.

“Roads are a key front-line service for all councils, even more so for those like Argyll and Bute, serving many remote communities.

“It’s essential for us to work together with other local authorities to keep these services at the level people expect, and to keep them resilient now and into the future.”

Rothesay Pavilion restoration reaches £14m target

galleryPlans to bring the Grade A-listed Rothesay Pavilion back to its former glory can move ahead after the ambitious £14 million fundraising target was achieved for the restoration.

A £4.1m National Lottery grant, over £1m from the European Regional Development Fund and £750,000 from Historic Environment Scotland have put in place the funding needed to get work started.

Designed by Elder and Cannon Architects, the project will see the Pavilion transformed to provide:

  • A year-round programme of changing exhibitions in a purpose designed exhibition area. It is anticipated that the exhibitions will range from international artists to local history.
  • A shop selling local produce.
  • A café/restaurant selling local food and drink.
  • The revamped main hall which will accommodate a range of events including music, theatre, dance, sports, weddings and various community uses.
  • A second venue for smaller performances of music, comedy, family celebrations and community use.
  • A new top floor which will provide a meeting/function room with fantastic views over Rothesay Bay as well as three new offices. One office will be occupied by Rothesay Pavilion Charity, one will be used as a multi media studio and one will be available for rent.
  • A workhub in the former caretaker’s house at the rear of the site which will provide three independent offices for local businesses along with a shared meeting room and office resources.

stairsCouncillor Gary Mulvaney, depute leader of Argyll and Bute Council and policy lead for strategic finance and capital regeneration programme, said: “Argyll and Bute Council has invested and successfully attracted millions of pounds of funding to bring this much loved building back to life.

“The fundraising target was ambitious – it had to be, to deliver a revitalised Pavilion that will be a key attraction for residents and visitors alike.

“The Pavilion will be transformed into a hub for cultural and community use, bringing with it jobs and a new tourist attraction for Bute and the wider area.

“Raising £14m is a fantastic achievement, which has been made possible by the hard work of council employees and our partner, the Rothesay Pavilion charity. Together they have promoted successfully to external funders, our vision of the Pavilion as a driver for economic growth and quality of life on Bute.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in reaching this extremely exciting stage in the transformation of Rothesay Pavilion.”

The new facility is expected to employ over 30 people and attract over 70,000 visits per year.

The contract to begin restoration work on the building is expected to be awarded later this autumn with a view to work starting before Christmas.

End date for completion of the project is July 2019.

Images provided courtesy of Elder and Cannon

Plans for £25m motorsport centre at Rest and Be Thankful

Rest 002A charitable trust is to be formed to push forward plans for a £25 million Scottish National Motorsport Heritage Centre at the historic Rest and Be Thankful hillclimb and rally stage in Argyll.

A steering group has been guiding the plans for the project to create an underground centre to display cars and pay tribute to the Scottish motorsport heroes past and present.

It would be set into the hillside near the classic hairpin at the top of the Rest and would involve tunnelling hundreds of tons of rock.

An exhibition of the plans and a scale model of the centre opened at the Lighthouse arts and architectural centre in Glasgow today and over the next two months the public are being asked for their comments.

The project is the brainchild of Douglas Anderson, the Dundee man responsible for the return of the Monte Carlo Rally to Scotland over recent years. His vision is that the centre, set within the dramatic hillside, would breathe new life into the popular stopping place and bring tourism spend and jobs to local communities as well as acknowledge the Rest as one of the most important motorsport locations in Scotland.

“The location of the proposed building at the Rest and Be Thankful, Argyll, has great significance in motorsport terms because of the famous hill climb races and international rallies,” said Douglas.

“It was seen as the ultimate test for drivers in many ways because of the steepness and conditions and many greats like Jackie Stewart raced there. It is therefore the ideal place to celebrate Scotland’s impressive motorsport heritage.

“The idea is to mark that connection within a permanent exhibition space but the project itself is much more than that. The building would be a multi-use facility which could be used by the local community for film, business and cultural events and there would also be retail and a restaurant area.

“There would be jobs in the construction phase and full and part-time local jobs when complete.”

Rest 001The proposed building has been designed by architects Kennedy Twaddle Architectural Design to utilise the stunning vista at the summit of the glen – already a favourite stopping place.

Although the company is based in London, two of the four specialists are Scottish and three of them trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, where one of them is still based, working on among other projects, part of the V&A on the city’s riverfront.

The concept has already been given the backing of F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, multiple British Touring Car Champion John Cleland and veteran Scottish rally driver Jimmy McRae.

Discussions with officials from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, VisitScotland, Transport Scotland, MSPs and local politicians have been positive, with tourism chiefs aware the attraction would bring something unique to the area.

Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “This is a really innovative idea; a visitor centre taking in the stunning scenery of the Rest and Be Thankful would surely be very popular. The council is supportive of anything which takes advantage of the area’s natural beauty. If Douglas Anderson’s vision can be realised we would welcome the additional tourists the attraction would bring into the area.”

The glass-fronted building is designed to sit below car parking and architects Chris Twaddle and Gary Kennedy say the attraction is respectful of the natural beauty of the site.

“We wanted it to be sympathetic to its context but we also wanted to frame the view and accentuate the natural amphitheatre of the valley. It is subtly quiet but exciting, visually,” said Gary Kennedy who has been working on the plans for the past five years.

The challenge now is to bolster support for the project and generate financial backing.

House plots for sale to self-builders at Kilfinan Community Forest

KCFCTwo serviced plots with planning permission at Kilfinan Community Forest have been released for sale to self-builders with the aim of addressing the local affordable housing shortage.

Released by Kilfinan Community Forest Company (KCFC), the sites in Tighnabruaich, Argyll, have a sale price of £30k each to interested parties who can demonstrate the relevant skills to build their own home.

KCFC aims to fulfil the vision of a living, working community forest and hopes that by using timber from the forest the projects will keep materials costs down while supporting the local economy through the utilisation of natural resources and local skills.

These initial sales will give KCFC capital to invest in future projects and activities, along with the potential to build additional affordable homes.

Steve Williamson, KCFC’s chair, said: “This project is the first of its kind in community woodland development, and represents everything KCFC stands for in terms of supporting our local economy through utilising the natural resources available. Local people will be able to access much needed affordable housing in an area where there is a real shortage, and, as a social enterprise, fulfil our ambition of creating a living and working community forest, where low value raw materials can be turned into high quality timber homes.

“The houses will be located within their own section of the forest, above the attractive community allotments whilst offering stunning views across the Kyles of Bute. This is a unique opportunity for people to live within a vibrant community forest environment, with all sorts of activities going on around them, whilst still retaining a sense of privacy. We urge people to come and visit the forest to see for themselves what’s on offer here.”

Interested parties are firstly asked to read the detailed masterplan and arrange an appointment with KCFC to discuss the opportunity. The next step will be to complete an application form, which will be assessed by an independent judging panel and reviewed against the following criteria: local connection, housing need, commitment to community involvement, and, for self-builders, relevant construction skills.

The housing scheme will be kept ‘affordable’ in perpetuity, through KCFC acting as a Rural Housing Body with first refusal to buy back homes, should the owners want to sell.

Applicants are asked to contact Mick Eyre to arrange an appointment or with any further questions: michael@kilfinancommunityforest.com / 01700 811159.

The masterplan can be viewed here.