Scottish planned town reveals regenerated public spaces

New public realm and outdoor museum for Helensburgh

Helensburgh’s principal town square, seaside esplanade and main streets – set within the town’s famous grid layout – have undergone a major public realm and traffic management enhancement.

The ambitious £7m public realm project was designed by Austin-Smith:Lord, and is part of Argyll & Bute Council’s CHORD initiative, seeking to deliver wider economic regeneration benefits.

Colquhoun Square, adjacent streets and the esplanade have been transformed, with the intention of offering ‘a whole new experience’ for residents and visitors.

Colquhoun Square has been re-imagined as the  ‘civic heart’ of the town, ‘with a plaza capable of supporting significant community events.’ It also incorporates a new outdoor museum which showcases, with new artwork, aspects of the town’s rich history, and provides increased amenity space, seating and planting.

Widened pavements provide better access to local shops and improved links between the sea-front and the town centre. Local businesses are reporting they are already seeing the benefits of the scheme, with the council receiving positive feedback on the high quality of the finish and the improved, inclusive accessibility.

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

From the outset, Austin-Smith:Lord’s team carried out a significant level of engagement with the community and stakeholders. Various consultation and engagement techniques were employed over a 20-month period which directly informed the preparation of design proposals.

‘Helensburgh is one of the finest examples of a planned town in the UK,’ says the practice’s project partner Graham Ross, ‘and it was an immense challenge to be asked to redefine the principal public spaces of the historic town centre.’

Austin-Smith:Lord led the team which included engineering consultant O’Connor Sutton Cronin, cost consultant Robinson Low Francis, and main contractor Maclay Civil Engineering.

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