OPINION: Square set for CHORD stage two

Everyone hopes that the second stage of the £6.6m CHORD works in Helensburgh will run more smoothly than stage one – the viability of the town centre, now battling against an out-of-town Waitrose, depends on it.

So today’s assurance from Argyll and Bute Council that no businesses around Colquhoun Square will have to close temporarily gave some surprising pause for thought.

Did anyone really think that shops would have to close their doors because of the roadworks?

Drivers will face more diversions in Helensburgh town centre
Drivers will face more diversions in Helensburgh town centre

Surely not – but then no-one thought that phase one of the works would drag on until well into December…

The council statement say that the first step will see roads and pavements ripped up, so that first drainage, then lighting, then footpaths, laybys and finally the actual road surface can be installed.

Work started yesterday (Monday) and the statement gives a considerable amount of detail about delivery arrangements, footpath widths, refuse uplift arrangements and parking.

But everyone who saw the saga of West Clyde Street unfold cannot help wondering what surprises lie in store for the contractors MacLay Civil Engineering.

How will funeral and wedding cars turn in front of the church? How dreadful will the drainage issues turn out to be?

There will be a lot of crossed fingers for the people whose livelihoods depend on what the council describes as the ‘keystone part’ of the project, and many people will be wondering why the much-trumpeted public poll in 2012 did not include ‘no change’ among the options they could vote for.

Why not? Well perhaps this 86-word sentence from the council statement can help:

The project aims to make the square one of the key focal points of the town through a combination of improvements including:  creating a coherent town square with high quality natural stone finishes rather than a crossroads dominated by vehicles, creating a larger pedestrian area on the north side of the square, reducing pedestrian crossing distances, increasing the numbers of seats and seating opportunities, increasing the illumination with nearly twice as many lights and increasing the number of civic trees and shrub planting in the square.

Personally, I’d say Colquhoun Square has been one of Helensburgh’s key focal points for many decades, but then I’m not a consultant

For the full statement from the council click here.

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