Bowling Basin, the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal, is among the areas to benefit from the latest round of Coastal Communities Fund grants, with £780,000 – the fund’s single largest award this year – allocated to support its ongoing transformation into a vibrant tourism and leisure destination.
27 coastal towns and villages across Scotland will benefit from £9.58m of UK government funding through the Coastal Communities Fund, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced. The work at Bowling will build on the £1 million project undertaken last year by Scottish Canals and West Dunbartonshire Council that saw the area’s disused railway arches renovated into commercial units thanks to funding from the Scottish Government’s Shovel Ready programme.
A key part of the project was the Bowling Basin Charrette, which saw the local community work with other stakeholders, agencies and industry experts to develop a shared masterplan for the area. The process recently took the prize for Community Involvement at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning. The Awards are one of the Scottish Government’s most prestigious events and celebrate achievements in planning, from strategic visions to development on the ground.
Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award from the Coastal Communities Fund which will drive forward the next stage of the award-winning regeneration of Bowling Basin.
“Working with the local community and our partners at West Dunbartonshire Council, we’ve developed a shared vision to help safeguard Bowling’s rich heritage and build for its future and have already invested more than £1 million in the area.
“This award will help turn the next stage of that vision into reality, bringing further investment, employment opportunities and vibrancy to Bowling, and developing a fantastic tourism and leisure destination fitting of the western gateway to the Forth & Clyde Canal.”
The funding is part of the third round of the government’s £116.6m Coastal Communities Fund – which has already contributed £7.6m to coastal areas across Scotland – communities from Stranraer to Shetland will receive funding for projects to improve the local economy, tourism, transport and the natural environment, creating hundreds of jobs. The project at Bowling will see further public realm works undertaken, as well as additional commercial units created in the village’s historic railway arches.
Councillor Patrick McGlinchey, Convener of Infrastructure and Economic Development, said: “This is really positive news which will support the ambitious plans we have to regenerate the Bowling Basin. We strongly believe that this site has real potential to attract investment, jobs and tourism to West Dunbartonshire. It is pleasing to see that other key stakeholders share similar views and are willing to back up our investment with additional funds.”
The Coastal Communities Fund was launched in 2012 to invest in seaside towns and villages, helping them achieve their economic potential, reduce unemployment and create new opportunities for young people in their local area.
Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I created the Coastal Communities Fund because, as someone who grew up on a small island, I know how much difference targeted investment can make to people’s lives. It’s already supported scores of coastal communities throughout Scotland.
“Projects benefitting from the latest round of funding include redeveloping Rothesay Pavilion, creating a new Submarine Museum in Helensburgh, and restoring the harbour at Carbost in Skye. Overall, hundreds of communities across Scotland and the rest of the UK will benefit, creating jobs and making sure that some of our most remote and fragile communities share in the economic recovery.”
As part of the Bowling Basin project, a website focusing on the village’s past and future has been launched at www.bowlingbasin.com. While it features information on the on-going regeneration of the area, a key part of the website is community participation and residents of Bowling – past and present – are encouraged to share their stories.
The site already features a few interesting tales of the village’s past – including Jimmy MacFarlane’s recollections of living aboard a converted lifeboat in Bowling basin and a childhood spent chasing midget submarines through the canal – but anyone with a story to tell is encouraged to get involved. Full details are available on the website.
The Coastal Communities Fund is financed by the government through the allocation of funding equivalent to 50% of the revenues from the Crown Estate’s marine activities in that area.
The government committed to extend the scheme to 2016 in the Spending Round so that even more communities from across the UK were able to bid for a share of the pot for growth boosting initiatives.
Rising revenues from renewable energy such as offshore wind and tidal power, as well as from aquaculture centres and ship moorings on the foreshore have meant increased money for Britain’s coasts to combat decades of economic decline and create opportunities for young people.
Successful bids to the Coastal Communities Fund are chosen because of their impact on local jobs, training and their ability to drive forward growth. The funds are allocated by central government and the devolved administrations in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund