A John Logie Baird innovation centre, superfast broadband, improved trains and cut-price circular bus tours around Helensburgh are among the ideas being floated to boost the area’s economy.
Despite a steep decline in the area’s population, some key indicators in Helensburgh and Lomond are more positive – the unemployment rate remains well below the average for Argyll and Bute, as well as Scotland.
In 2011 the population was 25,717 – a 7.5% fall since 2001 – and there were 9,773 jobs in the area, 3,000 of these part-time.
More than 20% of the jobs are in the defence and public administration sectors, with a further 18% in administration and support services and tourism accounting for 13.9%.
The council’s economic development action plan, which aims to ‘help unlock the full potential’ of the area, is being presented to the local area committee on Tuesday.
It sees the Rosneath Peninsula as having ‘a developing creative industries hub’, adding: “The waterfront town of Helensburgh has significant development potential to become a vibrant retail and visitor location, with a particular focus on marine leisure and exploiting attractions such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic Hill House.”
Key projects to produce a ‘competitive Helensburgh and Lomond’ include:
- A John Logie Baird innovation centre for entrepreneurs in Helensburgh, with a feasibility study to be completed by next March.
- Superfast broadband being available to over 85% of the population by 2020, the fibre technology infrastructure in Helensburgh next month.
- Better rail connections for Helensburgh, with reduced journey times into Glasgow and onto Edinburgh – a public meeting earlier this year heard that trains from the town now were slower than 40 years ago.
- A £1.50 circular bus route around Helensburgh, from Kidston Park to the Hill House
The council is also aiming for a 5% increase in day tripper and short stay visitors in the area, and a similar increase in both coach tour visitors and the use of cycle paths.
A copy of the economic development action plan is available here (file created and named by Argyll and Bute Council): Local Ecomonic Development Action Plan – 2014-2018