Maya Angelou famously said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When it’s boiled down, the best town planning is the same, it’s all about how it makes you feel.
Last year Argyll & Bute Council won a Scotland Loves Local Award for its transformation of the Front Green and Argyll Street in Lochgilphead and subsequently shortlisted for the Scottish Design awards.
The Front Green is an important green space in the town centre benefiting from superb views down Loch Gilp, plus it offers recreational space for residents and visitors. It was, however, often hit by high tides and was prone to flooding due to poor drainage.
The works to Argyll Street and Colchester Square involved resurfacing in local stone, the widening of footpaths, improved pavement surfaces for wheelchair users and prams, cycle facilities and new road pedestrian crossings.
Originally developed as a single project, the delivery was split into two phases. In Winter 2021, Argyll and Bute Council’s Transformation, Projects and Regeneration Team led works to improve Lochgilphead’s Colchester Square and Argyll Street. The public realm project resurfaced the footways, some of which were widened to allow additional circulation space, and replaced aging street furniture. The project was delivered by the Council’s Roads and Infrastructure Services with support from private sector contractors. Funding was provided via the Council’s Strategic Transportation Team who administered the Scottish Government’s Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes Fund and Transport Scotland’s Spaces for People fund, managed by SUSTRANS.
The Front Green project commenced in May 2021 and it reopened to the public in August 2022. The works involved an element of land raising to help to protect the site from the most frequent flooding events, new drainage to maximise use of the site throughout the year, creation of a new and accessible public square, a new play area, new trees, a new cycle path and more seating including an approximately 200m long seating wall running parallel to the seawall. Argyll and Bute Council’s Transformation Projects and Regeneration Team led the project and it was delivered by Hawthorn Heights Ltd. Additional funding was received from HiTrans, The Scottish Government’s Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes and Town Centre Funds as well Lochgilphead Phoenix Project and the Co-operative Local Community Fund.
The new public square has been designed to allow events to be held there, including the annual bonfire and fireworks display, Remembrance and Christmas lights switch-on. It is hoped that further community events will develop visitor numbers and resident use.
Argyll and Bute Council was presented with the Scotland Loves Local Streets and Spaces award after the judges were told:
“The Front Green site has only been open a short while. We are, however, already seeing a large number of people – residents and visitors – using the site. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are staying longer in Lochgilphead to visit the area, particularly the play facilities. We expect that this will have knock-on benefits for local businesses. Feedback has been positive. A renewed sense of pride is emerging as people see the improvements and appreciate the investment in their community.”