Cash scheme approved for £144m Oban revamp

Oban bay The Lorn Arc project will fund infrastructure improvements in the wider Oban area

Argyll and Bute Council has been given the go-ahead to borrow cash for a £144m scheme to transform Oban into a hub for marine tourism and offshore renewables.

The Scottish government has approved plans for the council to borrow £18.9m through Tax Incremental Financing.

This allows cash to be borrowed against projected rises in business rates.

The authority hopes to lever in a further £125m of private investment for infrastructure improvements to fund its vision for the wider Oban area.

The Lorn Arc project proposes a number of improvements for Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine.

The council believes the area has significant economic growth potential in areas such as marine science, marine tourism, aquaculture and renewable energy.

The Lorn Arc area The project covers Oban, Dunstaffnage, Dunbeg, North Connel and Barcaldine

Its application to use Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) argued this potential could be unlocked through a series of infrastructure improvements which could generate more than 1,000 jobs for Argyll and Bute.

Confirming the government's agreement for TIF to be used, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The Argyll and Bute TIF will allow major construction developments across the area over the next five years, which will unlock significant economic development and regeneration.

"It will allow Argyll and Bute to maintain and grow a number of industries and sectors that are important nationally.''

The five-year plan for the Lorn Arc zone includes extending Oban North Pier, upgrading road links to established industrial areas, renewable energy projects and creating new business space at Oban airport.

Argyll and Bute Council's leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: ''The project has the potential to create over 1,000 jobs and bring huge private sector investment to the Oban area in the years to come.

"The area has significant economic growth potential and we would hope that, with this investment, and the private sector investment we will be able to lever in, we can unlock this potential and grow Oban's reputation on the world stage as a place to live, work and visit."

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