In November last year the Ileach published an article about the Shoreline Project in Bowmore. Urban Animation and Neil Sutherland Architects have been appointed by Islay Estates to masterplan expansion at the western edge of Bowmore, Islay. The Project will be the most significant development on the island since the construction of the original planned village at Bowmore in the 1770s. The Project aims to provide a mixed use development with housing, retail, hotel, community, heritage/tourism and business uses. The challenge will be to integrate the new development with the existing settlement, respecting the historic street pattern and architecture whilst creating a development which is of its time. To find out what the people on Islay want several consultation sessions were planned later that month. Before the consultation sessions took place the Urban Animation Project Team had already spoken to many people with an interest in Bowmore and Islay, including the Community Council, Argyll & Bute Council officials, business and community organisations, Scottish Natural Heritage, Islay Energy Trust, Head Teachers at the Bowmore schools, the Health & Safety Executive and numerous residents. Additional issues raised through these contacts include; concerns over pupil safety at the road between the schools; parking and junction problems at Main Street in Bowmore; a shortage of hotel accommodation; inadequate supermarkets; the importance of Main Street as the focus for commerce and visitors. Continue reading....
Today the Ileach newspaper published a link via Twitter to the so called "Summary Of Attendance And Feedback report". In this report you can read about the number of people that attended the public consultation sessions in Bowmore and Islay High School as well as the results to several questions asked. Without jumping to conclusions too soon my first feeling towards this report was that the visitor numbers seemed to be rather low for such an important consultation session. Only 77 people attended the four sessions held on Friday and Saturday. That is a little over 2% of the total population. I wonder if that is sufficient to create enough support amongst the population for future plans. I don't know why the visitor numbers were that low, one can only guess, but perhaps people aren't confident enough about the outcome: "Some remain sceptical that Islay Estates Company is committed to a development of quality that will meet local needs and achieve bene!ts for Islay. Most understand that as a commercial development, it will be necessary to achieve a viable financial outcome. However, there remains some concern that new development could dilute the character and qualities of Islay, unless it is designed to meet local needs and is of an appropriate scale and design."
As you can read in the report it looks like most of the people who filled in the questionnaire are quite happy with the way things are organised in Bowmore. The majority say shopping should stay in Main Street Bowmore although more parking would be appreciated. Facilities seem to be adequate or could be improved somewhat and certainly more could be done for the children in Bowmore. Most people seem to be happy with the current number of holiday homes on Islay and instead of having more of these holiday homes they rather see a lot more affordable housing, something which is scarce in Bowmore. I think the growth in the number of holiday homes is an issue which is also very important for other places in Islay. Villages like Port Charlotte and Portnahaven are almost deserted in the wintertime and a further growth in tourism could destroy these and other village communities in the future. It struck me that this particular issue was very important amongst the school group: "Amongst the school group, there was a strongly expressed antipathy towards holiday homes and an evident fear of change, loss of island lifestyle and excessive increase in visitor numbers."
The conclusion from the report is as follows: "In responding to community views, the following principles should be addressed in the preparation of development proposals
1. The development should seek to respond to local needs;
2. Protect Main Street as the retail and commercial centre of Bowmore and Islay;
3. Opportunities to promote partnership approaches with other agencies should be fully considered;
4. Land uses, routes and building form should be designed to achieve integration with the village;
5. Pedestrian and vehicular access routes should be carefully considered;
6. Other parties should be encouraged to address parking and traffic issues in the village centre;
7. Delivery of affordable housing opportunities for local people will be an important issue.
The full report is available by clicking here