A car park in Oban town centre can’t be developed or turned into a multi-storey because it is on the site of a former gas works.
The blow for Argyll and Bute Council, which had hoped to capitalise on three of its public car parks by marketing them to developers, was reported to the Oban Lorn and the Isles area committee.
One a councillor called for Tweeddale Street car park, the site of former gas works, to be monitored to make sure it is “completely safe”.
There was some interest from hotel developers keen to build in the town when the sites were publicised prior to the Coronavirus pandemic.
But none were suitable for development. Two other car parks, not part of the exercise, where highlighted as having potential.
Tweeddale Street, Albany Street and Esplanade car park were all marketed to potential developers.
The brief was that the three could only be developed if the overall number of parking spaces was maintained.
Potential developers proposed expanding the Tweeddale Street car park to make it a multi-storey, providing the additional spaces to allow the other car parks to be developed.
But the car park, situated behind George Street, is located on a former gas holder site which meant site investigations were required.
David Allan, estates and property development manager, told councillors that Tweeddale Street is unsuitable for development based on the risks and costs.
He reported: “In its current usage, the site represents a low risk to those using the car park, however any redevelopment on the site will risk exposing both construction workers and end users to this contaminated material unless measures are taken to prevent this.
“These measures may involve works such as the removal of the most contaminated material from the site. It should be noted that the costs associated with the removal/remediation of this site may be cost prohibitive in the context of the proposed development.
“In light of this it is considered that retaining the car park in its current use is the most
cost effective and safe use of the asset.”
Councillor Jim Lynch said: “Will Tweeddale Street be monitored to make sure it is completely safe? I would like a report back with a bit of urgency. It does concern me if it has been disturbed (for surveys).”
There was significant interest in the Albany Street site, however it would require some work to make it suitable for development. It would also result in a substantial loss in town centre parking if developed in isolation.
Hotel developers expressed interest in the Esplanade, but during investigations it was confirmed that there were existing access and parking rights within the car park which limited the area’s potential for development.
Concerns were also expressed about distances to windows of adjacent properties. Finally it was noted that development would increase demand on parking while at the same time reducing the number of available spaces.
During the project developers, agents and council officers highlighted that the car parks at the Corran Halls and Victoria Crescent offer a better opportunity for development without impacting on car parking for the town.
Mr Allan concluded: “While it is disappointing that the three car parks within this project have not been able to be progressed for commercial development without impacting on the overall car parking provision within Oban the process has highlighted the demand for commercial development and particularly hotels within the
“It should however be noted that this was prior to the coronavirus pandemic and it will be some time before it will be able to be confirmed whether this demand still remains.”