Last gasp attempt to save Kilbowie

Kilbowie Outdoor Centre has faced demolition since September 28.

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A ‘last gasp’ attempt is still being made to save Kilbowie Outdoor Centre despite a demolition date.

But time is running out as the site is due to be cleared from September 28.

Emails have been sent urging organisations in the town, including Atlantis, to consider a community buyout of the centre at Gallanach or at least expressing an interest in it for now which could postpone North Lanarkshire Council’s (NLC) plans to demolish it then sell as a cleared site.

Community council convener Marri Malloy said Kilbowie’s demolition was already ‘a done deal’.

‘It’s going to be demolished. It seems there’s nothing we can do. There could be a community buy out but we don’t even know where we could get the money,’ she said.

But community councillor Laura Corbe told the meeting: ‘There’s a bit of a last gasp effort.’

She said Atlantis putting in a bid for Kilbowie could be one of the options left.

‘Even an expression of interest could put demolition on hold for now,’ she said adding there could possibly be some kind of ‘community and community enterprise hybrid’ formed to keep Kilbowie for Oban.

‘But it’s early days,’ she warned.

Chairman of Atlantis Neil Matheson said an email had been received and the matter would be taken up by board members but it was ‘a tricky time’ due to Covid.

‘As an organisation we would be delighted to see Kilbowie kept as a facility to make Oban a healthier town. Encouraging people outdoors more and to get fitter is something we are massively supportive of.’

NLC’s plan is to develop residential outdoor experience facilities from its own country parks so most of the equipment which was at Kilbowie will be used here.

Closing the centre sparked a Save Kilbowie Outdoor Centre Facebook group, selling the waterfront location could make NLC about £680,000.

The decision to close  the centre and phase out activity during 2020/21 was taken at a meeting of the Policy and Strategy Committee in January this year.

A spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council: ‘We carried out an assessment of the marketing options available for the site. This took into consideration the ongoing revenue costs and the additional impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our resources. On that basis, the council has made the decision to move forward with the demolition.

‘A building warrant for the demolition of the buildings has been submitted to Argyll and Bute Council.’

And he added: ‘A procurement contract for this work will be issued in the coming weeks. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year and the land will then be marketed for sale.’

A letter has already been sent by Oban, Lorn and The Isles Area Committee chairperson councillor Elaine Robertson to North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue asking for demolition to be reconsidered or delayed.

Oban Community Council has also sent an open letter to Scottish education minister John Swinney asking for his intervention to stop the demolition. The letter also went to other MSPs and councillors at North Lanarkshire and Argyll & Bute Council.

Until Covid struck, primary seven children in North Lanarkshire, about 100 miles from Oban, got the chance to attend Kilbowie every academic year. The outdoor centre also hosted a number of Oban community-based activities at weekends and in the holidays.