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Bids progress for levelling up funding for Argyll and Bute

Argyll and Bute Council will submit bids to the UK Government Levelling Up Fund, to bring up to £70 million to Argyll and Bute for two major regeneration and transport projects.

One bid will be for an area regeneration/heritage town centre project, maximum £20 million, and the other a transport bid, for up to £50 million

The regeneration/heritage bid – titled Argyll and Bute Western Seaboard Marine Gateways – involves proposals for Rothesay and Dunoon.

The Rothesay proposal focuses on restoring and finding a new purpose for the former Royal Hotel that dominates the principal gateway to the island, along with public realm works, restoring historical features in the town centre, and net zero interventions such as EV chargers.

In Dunoon the focus is on restoration of the A-listed Dunoon Pier including a potential new berthing facility, improvements to the town centre/waterfront public realm, and net zero interventions.

The transport bid– titled Connected Argyll and Bute – brings together ‘Whisky Islands’, ‘Connected Helensburgh’ and ‘Lorn Economic Growth Zone’.

The ‘Whisky Islands’ proposals include investment in the road network on Islay and Jura, and the replacement of the Jura Ferry with a larger hybrid or electric ferry, in an effort to deliver critical economic infrastructure that supports fragile island communities and also the nationally important whisky industry to expand in a sustainable way.

‘Connected Helensburgh’ proposals focus investment on travel connections including the completion of the Dumbarton to Rosneath Cycle Way, community buses with a possible link to Glasgow Airport; and the structural repair of Helensburgh Wooden Pier including a modern berthing facility  being reinstated.

The ‘Lorn Economic Growth Zone’ includes developing a hydrogen fuel facility; transport capacity improvements including a hydrogen bus service, and investment in road infrastructure at Dunbeg, and between Salen and Tobermory on Mull.

Project priorities have been identified with public in-put through charrettes (meetings or workshops) or through the work done as part of the Rural Growth Deal or other initiatives. The tight timetable for delivery also limits what can be bid for in this highly competitive bidding process.

The submission date for bids is currently estimated to be Easter 2022.

Councillors considered a progress report on the bids’ preparation at the meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee today.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said:

“These initiatives, and this level of investment, would bring significant benefits to day-to-day life in our communities, and to the health of our economy. The bids are ambitious, as they have to be, to support Argyll and Bute to build prosperity.

“Our focus now is on working with our partners and stakeholders to develop these bids further to ensure they have the best possible chance of success.”