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November 2017: Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 6 November 2017 at 7.00 pm in Helensburgh Parish Church Hall, Colquhoun Square.

We will be launching our new management plan for the land at Cumberland Avenue at this meeting. This has been drawn up by our environmental consultant, Iona Hyde, following the open consultative event meeting which took place earlier this year at Lomond School Sports Hall. Iona will therefore be our main speaker at the AGM, when she will explain in detail how the Cumberland Avenue site can be transformed into an environmental asset for everyone’s benefit.

Refreshments will be available at the midway break, after which we shall conduct all the normal AGM business, including the election of committee members or trustees.

Anyone needing a lift to and from Helensburgh Parish Church Hall, or who can offer someone else a lift to the meeting, should contact Kathleen Siddle, HCWG Secretary, on 678328 or at kathleen.ralph@virgin.net.

May 2017: Successful consultation event on future of Cumberland Avenue land

Trevor Welch (left) and David Adams (right)
Over 40 people came together for two hours on the afternoon of Saturday 20 May, to plan a brighter future for the land at Cumberland Avenue. Alongside local residents, attendees at the consultative event organised by HCWG included Councillor Aileen Morton (Local Ward Councillor and Leader of Argyll and Bute Council), Councillor Lorna Douglas (Local Ward Councillor), representatives of the Friends of Duchess Wood, and the two current owners of the land (Mrs Margery Osborne and Mr Thomas Paterson).

The meeting started with a presentation on future options from David Robertson of HCWG and Iona Hyde, an arboricultural consultant who has been commissioned by HCWG to help prepare a management plan for the land. The meeting then split into small workshops allowing everyone present to table their own particular ideas and suggestions.

Before the meeting, Trevor Welch of Helensburgh and District Civic Society presented HCWG with a cheque for £1,000 as part of its distribution of funds consequent on the winding up of the society, and in recognition of HCWG’s efforts to retain and enhance Castle Woods and the land at Cumberland Avenue as important open spaces within the town.

David Adams, HCWG Convenor said “HCWG now intends to use the numerous comments and suggestions gathered at this event to prepare a detailed management plan for the land as an important step towards the community buy-out. We are also particularly grateful for the financial support from Helensburgh and District Civic Society which we shall use to help bring the Cumberland Avenue land and Castle Woods into community ownership.

May 2017: Community consultation event planned on Cumberland Avenue

Cumberand Avenue site
Following the decision of Scottish Ministers last November to approve HCWG’s application to register a community interest at Cumberland Avenue, we are now planning to hold an open consultative event to discuss how best to turn this neglected area of land into a real environmental asset for everyone’s benefit.

This event will take place on Saturday, 20 May between 3-5 pm at Lomond School Sports Hall on Rhu Road Higher, Helensburgh. All members of the local community are invited to come. We will also be inviting our MSP and newly-elected local councillors.

At the event, we will be particularly keen to gather local views on:

  • What kind of trees and shrubs should we aim to plant and where?
  • Where should footpaths be provided?
  • Should we retain or remove the mounds left from earlier felling?
  • Should we create a central open space?
  • Are boundary fences needed?
  • How can dogs best be managed?

We intend to use all the comments gathered at the event to prepare and publish a detailed management plan for the Cumberland Avenue land.

Well attended and successful AGM

April 2014 - direct action replanting
At a well-attended Annual General Meeting held on Monday 28 April, HCWG members voted unanimously to step up the Group’s campaign to save Castle Woods and ensure the land at Cumberland Avenue is fully restored and re-opened to public access

The meeting began with a fascinating and wonderfully illustrated talk from local archaeologist Fiona Baker about the history of Clan MacAulay and how Ardencaple Castle along with its surrounding Clan lands in the Helensburgh area had evolved from the thirteenth century until the Castle was finally demolished by the Navy in the late 1950s. Fiona explained just how important the wooded areas around the Castle had been to its setting and showed how many key features remain or can be discerned in the landscape even today.

After a short break, David Adams, HCWG’s Convenor, reported that the membership of the Group had increased by 40% in 2013 to a total of 90 and that income for the year had more than doubled. On Cumberland Avenue, the meeting strongly backed the direct action taken by Argyll and Bute Council to enforce the Tree Replacement Notice. Members expressed their determination to see the removal of the unauthorised building materials stored on the site as well as the unauthorised boundary fence on to Cumberland Avenue. They also called on Argyll and Bute Council to take action under Section 179 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 to require all logs, tree stumps etc and other remnants from the 2011 felling to be removed from the site.

The meeting further called on Mrs Osborne and Mr Paterson, owners of Castle Woods, to grant HCWG a 12 month option to purchase the land at Open Market Value and invited local councillors, businesses and residents to support this request.

For more information, see the reports at:
For Argyll: With membership up by 40% in 2013 Helensburgh Community Woodland Group ups the ante and invokes Section 179
Lochside Press: Woodlands group calls for further legal action

Direct action taken by Council to replant trees

police van  replanting on 24 April

On 15 April 2014, following the continued failure of Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, the owners of the land at Cumberland Avenue to comply with the official Tree Replacement Notice, Council contractors moved on to the site land at around 8.30 a.m., escorted by police, to implement the notice directly. The contractors concentrated initially on clearing logs and debris from the areas identified for replanting. The following week they returned and planted the 28 trees specified in the Tree Replacement Notice.

For further information, see the reports at:
For Argyll: Cumberland Avenue Helensburgh 8.30am this morning – in go council contractors under police escort
Lochside Press
Council takes action at Cumberland Avenue
AND
Tree planting complete at Cumberland Avenue

April 2013

A £241,000 funding application to purchase, regenerate and manage Castle Woods as a national demonstration project of how community ownership, empowerment and management can be achieved when local people partner Service communities to deliver practical action on the ground was submitted by HCWG to the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

This detailed and fully costed application was accompanied by letters of support from Clyde Nursery Faslane, Friends of Duchess Wood, Helensburgh and District Access Trust, Helensburgh Community Council, the Naval Families Federation and Rhu Primary School.

Owners lodge appeal against replanting order

Cumberland Avenue, Helensburgh - ripping saplings

On 13 March 2013, Margery Osborne and Thomas Paterson, the owners of former woodland at Cumberland Avenue, appealed to the Scottish Government against the Tree Replacement Notice issued by Argyll and Bute Council. Surprisingly, the Scottish Government Reporter, who issued his decision on 4 June 2013, reduced the number of trees required to be replanted from 109 to 28, but still required the work to be completed by 15 November 2013.

At the same time, the Reporter dismissed the landowners claim for expenses against Argyll and Bute Council.
You can download details of the appeal decisions on the Scottish Government website here

AGM 2013

HCWG’s Annual General Meeting was held on 21 January 2013: Click here for details. (33KB PDF)

November 2012

There was an enthusiastic response from local people to HCWG’s draft management plan for Castle Woods, when it was presented to a public meeting held at Lomond School Sports Hall on 16 November 2012. For more information, see the reports at:

Strong response to Castle Woods plan (1.5MB PDF)

Public support for HCWG’s management plan for Castle Woods

Public support for plan to protect woodland

TV report on public meeting

On 8 November 2012, HCWG launched our own draft management plan to secure the long-term future of Castle Woods as a sustainable community woodland. For more information, see the reports at:

Hope takes root for community woods

Community Woodland Group takes initiative: public meeting on Helensburgh’s Castle Woods

New bid to protect woodland launched

TV report draft management plan

April 2012

HCWG contacted all candidates standing for local elections for Argyll and Bute Council within the Helensburgh and Lomond wards and published their individual views on the future of Castle Woods and the Cumberland Avenue site. You can download this leaflet here.