Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Oban gets go-ahead to borrow £140 million for improvements

After reading that Argyll and Bute Council had been given the go-ahead (by the Scottish Government) to borrow cash for a £144 million scheme to transform Oban into a hub for marine tourism and offshore renewables, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I was being reminded of something.

It’s taken a few days for my memory to organise itself, but I eventually remembered I had been prompted to reflect on changed in the town back in 2008: Changing face of Oban waterfront

Back then, I was finding that many places I liked to visit were all being treated to so-called ‘improvements’, but this was generally to demolish anything interesting (otherwise known as ‘old’), make pedestrian areas, and cover the place with block paving – leading to many places looking like clones of one another.

Oban waterfront is the most recent to come in for this treatment, yet it seems like only a few years ago I was standing on the pier as the building there were coming down around me to be replaced by something new. Then there’s the fairly sad shopping centre beside the ferry terminal, not all that old, but looking much like any other low-level version of the same building that came out of the same computer aided design package that was all the rage a few years ago. Thank goodness for the old building and the tower on top of the hill that still give you a clue as to where you are.

While I’m not suggesting things often need to be smartened up if dilapidation has set in, I also think that many councils sweep with a brush that is too wide, and use this to get rid of anything they just don’t like, or is a problem for them.

We’ll have to wait and see how Oban changes, before we can comment.

The scheme allows the council to borrow £18.9 million through Tax Incremental Financing, a system which allows cash to be borrowed against projected rises in business rates. The authority then hopes to attract a further £125 million in private investment for infrastructure improvements to fund its vision for the wider Oban area. The Lorn Arc project proposes a number of improvements for Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel, and Barcaldine. The council believes this area has significant economic growth potential in areas such as marine science, marine tourism, aquaculture, and renewable energy.

The five-year plan for the Lorn Arc includes extending Oban North Pier, upgrading road links to established industrial areas, renewable energy projects, and the creation of new business space at Oban airport. The council predicts the creation of up to 1,000 jobs as a result.

The Lorn Arc project proposes a number of improvements for Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine.

The council believes the area has significant economic growth potential in areas such as marine science, marine tourism, aquaculture and renewable energy.

I’ve gone with an old pic of Oban which I managed to find shared online. It must be old, Woolworth’s is still there!

But it brought the proverbial tear to my eye – Oban is, or rather was, a fairly easy and relaxed 90 mile (or 90 minute) drive thanks to my location on the road that leads to it. However, various circumstances largely out of my control nowadays mean that I haven’t been in a position to make the trip, and while it feels as if I was there not so long ago, in reality, it was more years ago than I care to recall.

Guess I will just have to stick to the webcam Oban tourism information and accommodation, Argyll, Scotland

Although, frankly, this is pretty poor nowadays. The original ‘Oban webcam’ was located in one of the shop window on the front, and used to pan and zoom to a number of different views, and it was nice to watch the visitors enjoying the facilities, especially a seat near big wooden planter.

But that all seem to go a few years ago.

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February 15, 2014 - Posted by | Civilian | ,

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