COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

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Nick
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COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:35 pm

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:52

(Report taken from Argyll and Bute Council website verbatim)

Argyll and Bute Council has decided not to part-fund a yacht berthing facility in Oban Bay.

The decision was made following the conclusion of a second report into the proposed facility by AECOM, the independent consultancy appointed to assess the viability of the proposal.

The council will now investigate how the £900,000 allocated to Oban Bay and Harbour development should now be spent.

The proposal was part of Argyll and Bute’s £30million CHORD programme which aims to assist regeneration and economic development in five towns – Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon.

The idea of a yacht facility was originally put forward by Oban Bay Marine (OBM), which had requested that CHORD funding be used to provide £900,000 towards the total cost.

Last September the council commissioned AECOM, a consultancy with significant experience of marina development, to assess the viability of such a facility in Oban Bay. AECOM’s initial report, published in December 2009, recognised that the proposal had merit. However, it also highlighted that the proposal promoted by OBM contained a range of challenges and uncertainties from the technical, operational and financial perspectives.

OBM asked that it be given the opportunity to revise its proposal in the light of AECOM’s findings, to which the Council agreed. The revised plans were submitted in March, since when they have been being assessed by AECOM.

Whilst the Boards recognised OBM had made progress in terms of operational and technical aspects of the proposal, outstanding concerns over capital and revenue funding are such that grant support for the project cannot be supported.

One of the key areas of concern relates to the project’s capital cost. With the £900,000 of CHORD funding and a loan of £800,000 from the Crown Estate, the Council estimates that a funding gap exists of £898,000. In addition, the AECOM study identified that the income generated by the facility would not allow the venture to break even.

AECOM liaised closely with key stakeholders over the last few months in taking forward this assessment, including OBM. However, the size of the funding gap means that the project is not viable even when tested against a range of financial scenarios.

Council Leader and Chair of the CHORD Programme Management Board, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “Our appointment of AECOM back in September was based on their expertise and ability to deliver a comprehensive and fully independent assessment of Oban Bay Marine’s plan.

“Their report into the revised proposal makes it clear that, in their professional opinion, the capital funding gap and annual projected revenue losses are such that this project is not financially viable.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that any decision taken regarding allocating public money will not involve any ongoing revenue burdens or expose the authority to future financial risk or uncertainty.

“Our decision has been based on a realistic assessment by AECOM of the commercial and financial aspects of the project both in the short and longer term. In this period of public sector austerity, we must base the decision on sound business principles.

“The Programme Management Board has therefore agreed, regrettably, that we cannot support Oban Bay Marine’s revised proposal.”

Councillor Walsh said that the Programme Board will now ask officers to investigate how the £900,000 previously earmarked for the scheme might be spent in the Oban Bay area.

“This is a significant amount of money which is now available for other schemes,” he said.

“We are committed to working with the Oban community to bring about major and lasting improvements to Oban’s harbour area, and we look forward to taking this matter forward over the next few months in partnership with all our stakeholders.”
- Nick 8)

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby marisca » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:14 am

That's a bummer though I, and many others, had our doubts about the technical viability of the plans as published. From the frequent "no room at the inn" from Kerrera and the early afternoon filling of the visitors' moorings off OSC it seems there is a demand for more parking spaces and if Balamory and Tarbert are anything to go by, providing more parking does feed the local economy - not so sure about Rothesay.

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:07 am

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The Council are parochial, short-sighted and basicly anti-yacht, so not much of a surprise - and as you say, the plans weren't particularly inspiring. What Oban needs is a proper marina development off the Esplanade, with real breakwaters. I can't see it happening though unless there is a sea change in the attitude of Argyll and Bute Council.
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby MrMcP » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:14 am

From my in-laws further south in Argyll, apparently the surveyor was down working in Campbeltown harbour the other week doing the prep work for dredging there ahead of putting pontoons and services into the inner harbour, and there are plans to extend the current visitors pontoon using fingers off the existing pontoon. So it would appear there is at least some development going on in the area. Haven't had the chance to go looking for 'official' updates on progress though.

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:47 am

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An interesting article, highly critical of the Council, has just appeared on the ForArgyll website.
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby stevepick » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:19 pm

I am sad to see the development booted to the long grass. I am sure places like Tobermory wouldn't say the pontoons have led the town to dizzy heights ( I was sad and concerned to see the butcher close in Tobermory last year). I am sure though that it has brought an extra level of business from yachties and cruise liners and sea safari business.
It seems that on the west coast if "you build it, they will come", and it doesn't have to be a full fledged marina from the outset (look at Tobermory's development over a good few years, from moorings , to a few dinghy pontoon, berths and then shower block etc). I understand some people disliking development, especially in remote anchorages, but Oban should be a bustling town, and it doesn't seem to capture enough business from the 1000's who transit the town. Making it somewhere to go would be a good thing, it has gap sites and crumbling hotels, poor facilities for sea safari business. Where do people land from the cruise ships?
The whyw/history page has a picture of oban bay as a busy anchorage full of yachts & shipping. The ferries preclude such anchoring now, but I am sure if some (more) facilities were built then Oban would see the benefit of crew changovers, restaurant/cafe/pub use, and general provisioning. Yes the kerrera marina allows that , but it is not so convenient , especially if you are trying to load a boat up with stores. If a more central landing pontoon was built, that could benefit the sea safari , sea kayaking , diving and cruise liner business.
I guess in the meantime some more visitors buoys wouldn't go amiss, and buoy useage figures would provide further data to support more infrastructure.

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Questions for Councillor Duncan MacIntyre

Postby Nick » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:59 am

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(We received a copy of this email - via another source - from the chairman of THA to Councillor Duncan Macintyre, and have reproduced it here because we feel it raises some very relevant points. It should be noted that the Chairman of THA did not publish this here himself - as far as I know he is not currently a member, although we would certainly welcome him)

Dear Duncan

OBAN BAY PONTOONS REJECTED BY ARGYLL AND BUTE

As Chair of the Tobermory Harbour Association I was both saddened and perplexed by the reason given on the radio this morning - 'That the pontoons were rejected by the lack of future profit'

Tobermory only has only 40 berths and we make a Profit. Profits which we will be reinvesting in Phase 6 of our programme to 'Provide Facilities for All'

For forty years I have watched the council, in Oban, reject (pontoons on both sides of the North pier) or fail to influence (the angle of the CalMac pier, a greatly missed opportunity to provide shelter and berthing for small ships).

The THA saw the Oban Bay project as part of our plan to provide 'steeping stones to far more fragile Islands and peninsulas up and down the West coast'. Yes, any investment must make a profit and possibly the profits would be smaller in Oban than Tobermory, due to competition from adjacent Marinas at Kerrera and Dunstaffnage or by the return expected by the investors but the spend radiating out to the wider community would be considerable. The THA has calculated that the spend in the wider community of Tobermory and beyond is in excess of £1,000,000. The Oban marina would have broadened Oban's customer base and encouraged new businesses in the boat service and maintenance sector.

The floating breakwater would have provided alongside berthing not just for yachts but for fishing boats, for charter boat businesses and potentially for new fast passenger ferries to Mull and even on to Coll and Tiree. I can assure you that there are two groups of 'business men' waiting for these docking facilities to be in place, at which time they would hope to invest in fast passenger boats with accommodation for 100 plus passengers to run up the Sound of Mull Tobermory and in the summer possibly on to Coll and Tiree. The marina would have positioned Oban ready to benefit from the new huge wind farm south of Tiree with millions of pounds of potential local benefit throughout the maintenance and servicing sector.

Personally I find it difficult to find any reason to reject this development and even if there are other plans to develop north of the North pier then these modular pontoons could be moved in a very short time frame.

Please let me know the real reason as I am genuinely perplexed - is this another opportunity missed for Oban or .........do the Council have other plans?
Regards
Brian

Brian Swinbanks
Chair
Tobermory Harbour Association
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- Nick 8)

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Gardenshed » Sat Sep 04, 2010 5:17 pm

I've aready asked my MSP to look into the squandering of CHORD funds given to Oban and to lobby Jim Mather to put pressure on the Oban councillors to be more open about their decision. I suggest that anyone with an interest does the same.

Surely through accepting CHORD funding, the Oban council are accepting a mandate to DO something to develop the waterfront i.e. the imperative is to find a way to make something positive happen, not just to deplete the funds given on consultancy reports and to watch the clock ticking on with nothing happening.

What a waste

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Arghiro » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:41 pm

2.7 Million squid for a marina? I take it that includes 100 houses, a mall & cinema then? Why can't the local boating orgs just take the 900k & throw in a few pontoons? Keep back 20k for manager's first year salary & off you go - it will probably be self-financing after that.

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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:26 pm

Arghiro wrote:2.7 Million squid for a marina? I take it that includes 100 houses, a mall & cinema then? Why can't the local boating orgs just take the 900k & throw in a few pontoons? Keep back 20k for manager's first year salary & off you go - it will probably be self-financing after that.

So you've built a few yourself then?
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby claymore » Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:20 am

So you've built a few yourself then?


Pompous git
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:46 am

claymore wrote:
So you've built a few yourself then?


Pompous git


Brevity is not always the soul of wit . . .
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby Nick » Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:47 pm

Arghiro wrote:2.7 Million squid for a marina? I take it that includes 100 houses, a mall & cinema then? Why can't the local boating orgs just take the 900k & throw in a few pontoons? Keep back 20k for manager's first year salary & off you go - it will probably be self-financing after that.

If you can build 100 houses in Argyll for under 3 million quid then I suggest you have a great future ahead of you in the building industry . . . but I know you just forgot the smiley :)

You don't just 'throw in a few pontoons' when there are two major ferry linkspans close nearby and a long fetch from the NW (the prevailing wind direction) - not to mention the very significant dredging that needs to be carried out.

There are plenty who would agree with you, as you can see from the comments on the ForArgyll site. However, if THA can bring over a million pounds into a village like Tobermory in a few years then Oban must stand to benefit proportionately. Plenty of other communities have invested and reaped the rewards.
- Nick 8)

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UPDATE

Postby Nick » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:04 pm

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Oban Bay Marine's membership voted overwhelmingly at a public meeting on 27th September to continue to seek funding (other than from the council) for the project. The meetiong was highly critical of AECOM, the consultants employed at a cost of £60K by Argyll and Bute Council.

Minutes of that meeting HERE
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Re: COUNCIL DECIDES NOT TO PROCEED WITH OBAN MARINA PLANS

Postby barnabus » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:28 pm

I was up in Oban last weekend and talked to quite a few locals in a local hostelry, there doesnt appear to be any support for the plan amongst the locals (other than the ones who have an interest in it). Its perceived as being somewhat of a white elephant and the consensus was that people were glad that the council had not invested public money in it. It seems its thought of as a scheme to get people into one or two restaurants surrounding the bay and nothing more.
I did a bit of surfing when I got home and there seems to be a lot of concerns being brought up at the ForArgyll website presumably by locals


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