Regenerating our town centres is a priority for this Council and as Vice-Convener of Infrastructure and Regeneration, I’ve been determined to ensure our vision for revitalising the centres of Alexandria, Dumbarton and Clydebank becomes a reality.

We have big plans for our town centres but we also need the support of our communities and partners to drive our ambitions forward.

Last week I had the great pleasure of chairing the quarterly meeting of the Dumbarton Town Centre Forum.

Set up following the launch of the ‘Save Dumbarton High Street’ campaign, the Forum brings together community reps, retailers, businesses, police, the Council and Jackie Baillie MSP to discuss issues and plan improvements to our town centre.

Forum members acknowledge that Dumbarton, like many towns, has witnessed a decline in fortunes in its town centre as a result of changing shopping habits, as many opt for the convenience of large supermarkets, out of town and internet shopping. We all agree sitting back and doing nothing will not bring the change we all desire.

The Forum has welcomed the fact that plans to invest, upgrade and increase footfall into Dumbarton town centre are becoming a reality as only then will others have the confidence to seize the opportunity that the additional footfall will bring to new and existing businesses.

At the meeting we heard the latest detail of plans to regenerate Dumbarton.

Hundreds of staff are being brought into the town centre through the Council’s investment in new offices at the Old Academy in Church Street; the Bridge Street offices are undergoing a £1.5million refurbishment and the upgrade of the Municipal Buildings is well underway.

Recent removal of part of the scaffolding has revealed how stunning this building will look on completion next summer.

A consultation event for the new waterfront walkway and cycle path linking Dumbarton Castle to the Quay was held last month.

Supported by private, grant and Council funding, the pathway will encourage visitors to the Castle to enjoy a riverside walk into the town centre, increasing footfall and boosting the economy.

A planning consultation is also underway on plans for the old distillery site with Lidl proposing to develop a supermarket and developer Cullross seeking to build around 200 homes, half of which would be for social rent by Dunbritton Housing Association.

At Levengrove Park there will be almost £4m worth of investment including renovations to St Serf’s Church, the Kilmahew Fountain and the Cenotaph in phase one.

A new pavilion with a café, information centre and toilets in phase two and new seating, lighting and CCTV in the final phase.

The investment will create eight new jobs and increase visitors by up to 50,000 per year. At Posties Park, the council plans a new sports pavilion, 6 lane running track and athletics facility and new football park. Work will begin in both parks from May ‘17.

Residents are being consulted on future uses of Council-owned listed Glencairn House, the new Dumbarton Central Station Development Trust is forging ahead with plans to improve the historic station and floodlighting is proposed for Dumbarton Castle and old bridge.

Each of these will showcase the historic assets we are rightly proud of.

We all acknowledge there is no instant fix for our town centre, however, our plans to increase footfall, encourage visitors and enhance town centre living are all positive and the finished result can only be good news for Dumbarton town centre in the years ahead.

Source: Dunbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter

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