In February 2015, Kevin Murray Associates was commissioned to facilitate and report on the Anderson Bell Christie-led charrette examining the area around Dumbarton Rock and Castle, including the River Leven waterfront. The charrette client was West Dunbartonshire Council, with support from Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government, but of course the ultimate client would be the residents, businesses and visitors to Dumbarton.
Part of the Scottish Government Charrette Series, the main event was held over 4 consecutive days from 25 – 28 February, primarily based at Dumbarton Football Club at the base of the Castle Rock. Located in the heart of the area the charrette was examining, it was readily apparent to all that the area around the football club has several vacant sites waiting for development to take place, but which currently increase the sense of distance between the Castle Rock and Dumbarton’s town centre. This disconnect, and how to overcome it, was a recurring theme throughout the charrette, particularly given the role that the Castle and Rock could play in attracting people to Dumbarton (for heritage reasons and also extreme sport, as Dumbarton Rock is a popular rock-climbing destination of international renown) and thus stimulating the local economy.
Other themes included the redevelopment of the Mill and Still site (including debate about whether the tower should stay or go) and how this could make a positive contribution to the town centre and the waterside. The River Leven was recognised as a huge asset to Dumbarton, and access to and along the River was seen as playing a key role in the regeneration of the development sites, and also the town centre itself.
Another facet of the area that proved to be significant was the boatyard on the west bank of the River Leven. Analysis showed the site sits in all of the key sightlines between the town centre and the Rock making it strategically significant in townscape terms. Any future development would need to be sensitive to its location and contribute to activating the water edge in this area.
The final part of the charrette event was held in Dumbarton Burgh Hall, displaying the outputs that the design team had worked up in the initial 3 days, providing the opportunity for the public to view the proposals, discuss them with the design team and provide their responses. This feedback was used to refine the proposals which were subsequently presented at a follow-up exhibition on 26 March in the Burgh Hall.
Our thanks to all who participated in the charrette, West Dunbartonshire Council, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government.
The final report will be uploaded onto the Scottish Government website in due course.