A Stranraer councillor has warned that the amount of money needed to develop the town’s waterfront could spiral upwards to around £90million.
Willie Scobie berated D&G Council officers for a lack of information about the costs of the regeneration project in a report to the new look Wigtown Area Committee on Wednesday morning.
Council officer Gerry Mills told the elected members that work to develop the East Pier (the former Stena ferry terminal) was an extremely complex project with issues to address such as contaminated land, subsidence, the height of the sea walls and the risk of flooding and its mitigation. He said as the project moved forward more problems surfaced. Although the officer declined to speculate on the money needed, Councillor Scobie had done his own sums and estimated that £53 million would be needed to make the site fit for purpose, plus £40 million to build housing and retail units on top. He was also frustrated that the £6million pledged by the Scottish Government for the Stranraer waterfront project had not yet transpired, and was not included in this year’s budget.
Mr Mills explained that the council had to firstly determine ‘market failure’ (the point where the money spent makes a project viable). When that is decided they can go to the Scottish Government with a business plan. If that is approved, only then can the local authority access the funding.
Councillor Scobie commented that the £6 million pledged “fell well short of what is required” He raged: “It’s the mushroom syndrome. We’re being kept in the dark and fed the proverbial. I want to know what will the taxpayer of Dumfries and Galloway be paying and what will come from the Scottish Government. We need a report with facts and figures.”
A representative from Dumfries and Galloway Council commented: “A regeneration project of this scale is complex and has many variables to consider, but we still believe that this is a very worthwhile project and is a Council priority, with a multitude of long term gains for the economy of the area and the residents and visitors to Stranraer and the South West of the region. Our Council is continuing to work through a robust due diligence process which will provide clarity and costs involved to deliver on this priority. Once the due diligence is complete Members of our Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee will receive a detailed report.”