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Helensburgh Town Centre

Helensburgh Town Centre
Austin-Smith:Lord were appointed in December 2009 to work with Argyll and Bute Council to deliver ambitious regeneration plans for Helensburgh Town Centre as part of their CHORD initiative (Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay, Dunoon)

The regeneration plans for Helensburgh Town Centre support the aims and priorities of the Scottish Government for Town Centre Regeneration and sustainable economic regeneration through improvements to the quality of the environment.

Helensburgh is one of the best examples of a planned town and urban grid anywhere in the UK.

The key project concerns included developing a progressive traffic management and sensitive public realm scheme in the town centre thus creating a more harmonious relationship between pedestrian movement, public space and the movement of traffic. This was applied to Helensburgh’s set piece Colquhoun Square, the surrounding principle streets and the West Bay Esplanade which has a wonderful southern aspect over the Firth of Clyde.

The re-modelling of Colquhoun Square is the most significant element of the project. We wanted to create a “civic heart” in the town which would include a plaza capable of supporting significant community events. The space provides increased amenity space, seating and planting and supports a growing “café culture”.

The interaction and relationship between vehicles and pedestrians was extensively consulted on. The aim was to re-model the space within Colquhoun Square to “read” as a shared space environment however after listening to the real issues and concerns of the local community we have developed a hybrid space which is still based on the “Designing Streets” ethos. We have had to manage the conflicts between the varying needs of a range of user groups.

An issue of note throughout the delivery of this project was the significant level of engagement with the community and stakeholders. A range of consultation and engagement techniques were employed over a twenty month period which directly informed the preparation of design proposals.

One outcome from the community consultation was the creation of the “Outdoor Museum”. The local community was keen to have a new museum space in Helensburgh Town Centre. As this was not something that was within our gift, our project brief or our budget we decided to try to provide this within the public open space. Something that was within our gift! Bollards required to control traffic movement became “museum plinths” to display artifacts and original artwork unique to Helensburgh and its history thus creating an “Outdoor Museum”.
PROJECT: Helensburgh Town Centre
LOCATION: Helensburgh
CLIENT: Argyll and Bute Council
ARCHITECT: Austin-Smith:Lord
Helensburgh Town Centre
Helensburgh Town Centre
Helensburgh Town Centre

Photographer:  Keith Hunter

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