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Multi-storey car parks and new hotels could be coming to Oban, with three areas having been outlined for development.
Argyll and Bute Council is looking to team up with a business partner to re-develop one or more of its current car parks to ‘maximise economic return’ on the land.
The three locations that have been identified are: the car park on Oban Esplanade, adjacent to the Corran House Hotel and Westbay Apartments; the car park adjacent to Albany Street; and the car park in Tweeddale Street.
The council is looking for ‘expressions of interest’ at this stage.
In a document seen by The Oban Times, the council says: ‘We wish to maximise the economic return from our land holding by redeveloping one or more of our car parks for a hotel, multi-storey car park or similarly related operation.
‘A key outcome shall be the creation of a long-term property investment for the council and partner with the protection or enhancement of current parking availability.
‘Long-term lease or profit share is favoured. It is not the council’s preferred option to sell off its land assets.
‘The council shall contribute land and may also invest capital to the project as part of a profit share agreement.
‘Prospective partners are invited to submit a proposal for delivery across one or multiple sites as they see fit to maximise the benefits.’
Councillor Roddy McCuish, the council’s policy lead for roads and amenity services, said: ‘This project is all about creating more car parking in the town centre and delivering known market demand for another hotel in the area.
‘The council has invested a substantial amount of money in recent years to develop Oban as a visitor destination, and it’s clear that this project would help us to grow the area’s tourism economy.
‘We want to encourage people to come to Oban, to show them what a beautiful place it is to live, work, visit and invest in.
‘We are, therefore, exploring options to deliver this with a private-sector partner and are testing interest at this time.’
Andrew Spence, chief executive of BID4Oban, said: ‘Good news for Oban with regard to finding a solution to parking. However, this needs to move at pace as it has been talked about for years.
‘Key to a new car park is the location which ideally should complement the area it is built in. With regard to additional hotels, given that a new Premier Inn and Esplanade hotels are still to be built, we could have an over-provision if we are not careful.’
Calum Ross, chairman of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative, said: ‘Any new car parking spaces are extremely welcome, not just from a tourism perspective, but also from a residents’ perspective.
‘We all recognise that there is not enough parking in the town for locals and visitors, so any additional parking spaces are a good thing.
‘In regards to the hotel development, what Oban really needs in the town centre is more top end quality properties because there’s a demand for it and there is a gap in the market.
‘Tourism in Argyll is growing faster than the rest of Scotland, which is great news, and Oban is benefiting from that. So more car parking and more hotels are good for everyone.’
David Adams McGilp, regional director for VisitScotland, added: ‘It’s fantastic to hear that there are plans to develop a new hotel in the area. Our reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand.
‘With its stunning coast, beautiful surrounding countryside and world-class attractions, Oban has a truly exceptional tourism offering.
‘From enjoying a dram at Oban Distillery to exploring the ruins of Dunollie Castle, experiencing the Gulf of Corryvreckan, to dining at an award-winning seafood restaurant, this seaside town has something for everyone.’