Latest completion date for CHORD work is Spring 2015

The controversial CHORD project in Helensburgh is ‘nearly complete’ and still within budget, Argyll and Bute Council said this week.

Contractors Maclays estimate that phase two (Colquhoun Square) will be completed by the end of this month, and aim to finish the entire project by next spring.

Initially the work was scheduled to be complete by mid-summer this year – a secret report blamed delays in 2012 on drainage and lighting issues, as well as design changes.

Meanwhile the artwork element of the project is moving forward, with bronze plaques currently being produced and special plinths being fabricated.

Today’s meeting of the council’s Helensburgh and Lomond area committee was given an update on the scheme, and agreed to allow Maclays to continue using a large part of the pier for storage free of charge.

Afterwards a statement said contractors had forecast phases three (Colquhoun Street North and East Princes Street, from Maitland Street to Sinclair Street) and four (Sinclair Street from King Street to Princes Street) will start at the beginning of September, with a view to completion by Christmas.

Phase four (the bottom of Sinclair Street) is expected to begin in the New Year.

The council’s policy lead for special projects, Ellen Morton, said: ‘’I’m very happy to see the project taking shape – the square and the front both look fantastic and it’s great to see people out enjoying it.

Taking shape:: Ellen Morton
Taking shape:: Ellen Morton

“I’ve had some very positive feedback from local residents and retailers, particularly around the improved access to the shops.

‘’We’re on the home straight now and I’m confident that we’ll be finished by spring 2015.

“Admittedly there have been some slippages in the original timeline which have been caused by a number of things – poor ground condition and the additional drainage work – but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.

“These are exciting times for the town, with the next big council project in Helensburgh being the redevelopment of the pier head, a development that will complement these works, following on from the new civic centre.”

‘’She added that the council had also secured £150,000 of Sustrans funding to upgrade cycle lanes to complement the CHORD work.”

The artwork element will see 15 pieces of art displayed on plinths in the newly renovated Colquhoun Square.

Five of the plinths are currently being fabricated and are due for installation in the autumn.

These are the Lily Springs bottle, from the Lily Springs Spring House; four wee shoes, miniature crafted shoes from the town’s first shoemaker; a Stooky Bill puppet used by John Logie Baird for the first ever transmitted televised image in 1926; Comet – Bell’s Bell, a replica of the original bell salvaged from the wreck of the Comet in 1820 and the Butter Pats, which were used to shape and serve butter in the Buffet Café.

'Stooky Bill' will be on one of the plinths
‘Stooky Bill’ will be on one of the plinths

Bronze plaques that relate to the historic 1845 text and town maps etchings are currently being produced and are also due for installation in September.

Cllr Morton said a website – Helensburgh in 100 objects – had been commissioned and a design guide was under way.

‘’I’m looking forward to the next meeting of the selection panel where we will see new pieces for the plinths, a draft design guide and a website demonstration,” she said.

‘’The artists are also looking to create a flotilla arrangement with the decorative heads from the old Comet lighting columns which were greatly admired by local residents.

“The council retained the valuable lighting heads in order to reuse them however, the columns themselves were of no value as they were unsuitable for modern lighting.”

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