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December 2, 2015

Debt of gratitude

It’s always easier to do something when you’re confident in the knowledge that it’s perfectly possible and has been done many times before. For communities thinking about buying land or taking on complex building projects, the debt of gratitude owed to the early pioneers of this asset owning movement is beyond measure. It’s hard to imagine what those first few communities felt as they went about buying their island or taking over all their housing stock from the Council. Nowadays anything seems possible. A town centre shopping centre? Piece of cake.


ACTIVISTS examining the possibility of a community buyout of a town centre development in Alexandria held a public meeting recently outlining their aims.

The move by the recently formed Three Towns Trust to buy the Mitchell Way development comes amid concerns by some local residents that any commercial developer buying it could install retail outlet stores which show little “inspiration or aspiration for the local area”.

A not-for-profit company would be set up and following a ny successful buyout, the trust is hopes ing to build a development that addresses the needs of the community and benefits and boosts the economy of the Vale of Leven and West Dunbartonshire.

The meeting was well attended and Three Towns Trust members are now looking for other members of the business community in the area to get on board and help them reach their aims.

Bonhill community activist Janice Ross, who set up the group, said: “We are looking to build a specialised group of volunteers who can move things forward. We need people from the business community such as lawyers, accountants and town planners.

“Anyone with special skills who thinks they could help us reach our goals or businesses who will benefit from the improvement in the local community where they are based – they can give something back by donating some of their time to help us through the processes.”

The Three Towns Trust also has a long-term vision to entice tourists heading to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs into town centres and villages by making them more attractive and viable shopping areas.

The history and background of each town would be exploited with the creation of a Three Towns Tourist Trail. There has been an element of confusion arising over the trail with some onlookers thinking the term meant a walkway.

Janice explained: “It is a tourist trail from Clydebank down to Balloch and Gartocharn. I envisage this to be similar to the Clyde Valley route where people drive down the Clyde Valley and visit the garden centres and ultimately head to New Lanark.”

The tourist trail would run along the natural geography of the land from Clydebank to Old Kilpatrick, Bowling and into Dumbarton where the River Clyde diverts into following the River Leven along to Renton, Alexandria and into Balloch and further inland the village of Gartocharn.

In relation to the local authority plans, the closing date for the it is thought the successful bidder for the town centre site bidder id December 14 will be appointed within the next six months, with West Dunbartonshire Council forecasting that work will have started to overhaul the Mitchell Way site by spring 2017.  

As previously reported, council documents state the 3.89-acre redevelopment site will comprise of “a food and non-food retail scheme, suitably integrated within the existing town centre to enable an enhanced public realm and retail experience for the resident catchment population”.

The group has set up a Facebook page where anyone interested in helping can contact them.