Argyll and Bute Council’s plans to move its Helensburgh offices into a listed building which has been empty and neglected for years were given the go-ahead yesterday (Wednesday).
The town’s former Clyde Street school will be redeveloped if Historic Scotland permits the development at the B-listed building which dates back to 1903.
A meeting in Lochgilphead of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee heard that SEPA had withdrawn its objections, which had held up the development.
The council says that its plans would see the the buildings being retained, refurbished and extended, with the community being allowed to use them as well.
The main building and east and west lodges are all on the Buildings at Risk Register, which is run by the Scottish Civic Trust on behalf of Historic Scotland. The registers says all the buildings are in poor condition, with a high level of risk.
The council currently has several buildings in and near Helensburgh which are used for offices – several years ago the authority tried in vain to sell its Blairvadach site in Shandon – and hopes to cut costs by moving its workers to a single site.
After Wednesday’s meeting Douglas Hendry, the council’s executive director of customer services, said: “We expect that this new building, once operational, will have a major impact not just on our operational costs but also on our customers, because virtually everything will be under one town centre roof.
“Once it is operational, many staff who are currently working outwith the town centre will be based in the heart of Helensburgh, which has obvious potential benefits for local businesses. We anticipate that nearly 140 employees will be working out of this office, which is a significant number of people coming into the town centre every working day.
“The fact that the new building will include community facilities is a response to suggestions from the public during the consultation period, and I am confident that many groups and individuals will find themselves able to benefit from the new facility in some way.”
The building incorporates both indoor and outdoor space for community purposes, and a café will be created in the central area of the original school. It will also include a marriage suite and gallery space.
The extension to the former school building will be attached by a glazed link, with the main body of the extension being oak-clad on the street and side elevations. The back of the building, which faces the shore, will be glazed so as to make the most of the view across the open space behind and onto the Clyde.