Feasibility Study 2005

This study was undertaken in 2005. The detail has changed little over the years except for estimated capital costs which are likely to be higher as time goes on

Feasibility Study April 2005 Halcrow Group Limited




1. INTRODUCTION In November 2004 Portgordon Community Harbour Group (PCHG) commissioned consultant engineers Halcrow to carry out a feasibility study into the potential for regenerating the harbour and surrounding area for the benefit of the local community. Six members from PCHG formed part of an Advisory Group, which worked with the consultants over several months culminating in the publication of the study in April 2005. This is a summary of the study contents.

2. THE NEED FOR A STUDY Primarily there were three main reasons for PCHG producing the study: Firstly, we as a Community had to assess what needed to be done, what it would cost and whether the project was viable? Secondly, potential funders have insisted on us having a professional study carried out to allow them to fully consider any applications for funding, and Thirdly, The Crown Estate, as harbour owners, have stated “they would be prepared to enter into a sale of the harbour providing it can be demonstrated that the proposed purchaser has a reasonable prospect of developing and subsequently maintaining the harbour”.

3. PREVIOUS STUDIES This was not the first study to look into the potential of Portgordon Harbour. In 1989 Moray District Council carried out a detailed study and found there was a demand but plans to take over the harbour were dropped when it became clear that the capital required to upgrade the harbour was likely to be considerable. In 1992 Moray Badenoch and Strathspey Enterprise Company also carried out a study into the demand for sailing facilities along this section of coastline. They reported that demand for sailing facilities was healthy and that development is hampered by a lack of berthing spaces.

4. FUNDING THE STUDY PCHG were fortunate to secure funding from Moray Council, LEADER+, MBSE, Awards for All, Moray Action for Communities and Crown Estate for which we were very grateful. A considerable cash injection by the Harbour Group themselves completed the funding package.

5. PROCUREMENT PROCESS AND AWARD We produced a tender invitation document and shortlisted ten companies who had carried out this type of work. From this list we invited six to tender in September 2004. Two consultants were interviewed and in November that year the contract was finally awarded to experienced consultant engineers Halcrow Group Ltd.

6. STUDY PROGRAMME, CONSULTATIVE MEETINGS & PUBLISHING After numerous meetings between the consultants and the Advisory Group the study was published in April 2005 and this was soon followed by a presentation of the study at a very well attended public meeting in the village hall on 9th May.

7. SUMMARY OF THE STUDY The 140-page study covers 13 section headings and 8 appendices as follows:

1. Introduction 2. History of Harbour 3. Public Consultation 4. Market Assessment 5. Assessment of Harbour 6. Repairs & Improvement Works 7. Environmental Improvement & Amenity Works 8. Ancillary Facilities 9. Regulatory Requirements 10. Annual Operating & Maintenance Costs 11. Funding 12. Recommendations 13. Conclusions

The appendices included historical documents, drawings and photographs.


1. Introduction

The two aims of the study were as follows: (i) To investigate the financial and legal viability of the community taking over ownership of the harbour from the current owners Crown Estate and redeveloping it for recreational use with the harbour being operated as a non-profit making community based venture. (ii) To investigate the current condition of the harbour structure, assess repair costs, future maintenance and running costs.

2. History of Harbour

Portgordon and its harbour date back to 1797 when the village was founded by Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon. The harbour was built between 1870 and 1874 and was once a bustling fishing and cargo port. In 1935 ownership of the harbour transferred to the Crown Estate Commissioners and in 1947 the Crown declared Portgordon Harbour formally closed, revoking an Act of Parliament, the “1854 Portgordon Harbour Act”. Following this the condition of the harbour deteriorated and the invaluable work carried out by the Ghurka’s in the Eighties was well publicised.

3. Public Consultation

In recent years the residents of Portgordon have been consulted twice in order to establish their views in relation to the future of the Harbour. A Community Plan was undertaken by MBSE in 2001 and the need to develop the harbour was one of the main issues of concern for the village. In November 2004 the Harbour group also carried out a consultation exercise. This took the form of a short questionnaire that was delivered to every household in the village and every local community group. This indicated that from those who responded, there is overwhelming support for development of the harbour and the surrounding area. In addition there has been several public meetings canvassing the views of the village.

4. Market Assessment

The previous studies stated that demand for berths was strong. It was considered at that time of these studies that a modest development at Portgordon could attract 20-25 boats in the first two years, increasing to around 30 in the medium term. For our study a review of most of the other harbours along the Coast was undertaken looking at existing facilities, number of berths, waiting lists, charging regimes etc. Most of the harbours were found to be currently full with waiting lists at each. The waiting lists appear to total around 70. The figures certainly indicated that there is scope for continuing development of recreational harbours along the Moray Coast. For the purposes of assessing viability the demand at Portgordon was assessed at 40 berths in total, 28 pleasure craft and 12 creel boats. Although the study budgeted on 40 berths the harbour has capacity for around 60. It was also noted that there are limited facilities for winter storage of boats in this area. Most areas are unsecured and vulnerable to winter weather. Therefore there is the opportunity for Portgordon to provide secure and sheltered winter storage facilities for up to say 20 boats. It is anticipated that the proposed development of the harbour would have a beneficial impact on the local economy and development of the village. It is highly likely that visitors will contribute additional revenue to the community. Further, it is expected that the proposed facility would enhance the look of the community.

5. Assessment of Harbour

With the exception of areas of the Outer East Pier the harbour structures were generally considered to be structurally sound but in need of repairs to ensure they remain sound. Much of the structure requires remedial works to repair pointing, cracking and erosion at concrete joints and areas of the concrete decking have cracked and settled. The existing ladders are in very poor condition. The harbour bed requires major dredging, estimated at 22,000m3, and this will be one of the single most expensive items of the project.

6. Repairs & Necessary Improvement Works

There is a need to bring the harbour up to current standards and provide an inviting area for harbour users & visitors. Improvement works are necessary to reduce the wave climate within the harbour, provide adequate water depth within the harbour to allow access at all stages of the tide and to provide 40 pontoon berths. It is proposed that the berths are serviced with water and electricity. In addition a security fence complete with swipe card operated gates could be installed for added security. Other improvement works would include timber copes/toe rails, handrails, ladders, life saving equipment, lighting and signing.

7. Environmental Improvement & Amenity Works

The area around the harbour has already been the subject of small-scale environmental improvements by the Harbour Group with local paving and planters as well as an information board set on a masonry plinth, notice boards, signing, life belts, litter bins and picnic tables. Additional facilities now proposed include • A small building to include say a harbour master’s office, shower and toilet facilities and a community meeting facility. • Secure boat yard with marine workshop • Improved lighting • Traffic Calming • Play area, landscaping etc.

8. Funding

It is recognised that construction costs would be considerable and the estimated total cost of repairs, improvements and amenity works outlined above amounts to £1.3 M. It is likely that the project would have to be tackled in stages as funding became available. A detailed assessment of funding sources did not form part of this study, however possible funders may include The Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Executive, East of Scotland European Partnership, Crown Estate, HIE and Moray Council. In addition to these several smaller grant organisations exist and local fundraising must also contribute to raising adequate funds.

9. Regulatory Requirements

There is a raft of regulatory requirements which must be complied with in setting up and operating a community owned and managed harbour. In order for Portgordon to be recognised and run as a harbour by the community, for the community, the legal basis of this must first be established. There are several possible ways in which a port can be formed, however advice suggests that the best suited way for a community venture is the formation of a Trust Port. The basis of a Trust Port is that ownership of the harbour rests with the trust. The trustees operate the harbour as a non profit making organisation for the benefit of harbour users and the wider community. The formation of a Trust Port requires an Act of Parliament, this is known as a Harbour Act.

10. Annual Operating & Maintenance Costs

Annual operating & maintenance costs were assessed including maintenance dredging, insurances, waste disposal, rates, utility costs, accounts and auditing. Further examination of this will be necessary at the business planning stage.

11. Recommendations

The viability of the proposed community buy out of the harbour as presented in the study must be given further consideration. The Harbour Group must now go away and produce a Business Plan that will hopefully confirm the projects viability.

12. Conclusions of the Report

• There is demand for such a development.

• If the community wishes to own and operate the harbour Trust Port status may need to be established and a Harbour Act produced. • The maximum total capital cost is estimated at £1.3 m. • Annual operating and maintenance costs for the developed harbour and the potential income would need further consideration. A Business Plan must be produced and funding applications made. The report concludes, “the appearance and attractiveness of the village has unquestionably suffered as a result of the harbour closure. It is the clear wish of the villagers in Portgordon to see their harbour regenerated. Should the aims and objectives of the Portgordon Community Harbour Group fail, then the future of the harbour and the village would remain uncertain”.

Portgordon Community Harbour Group Ltd - registered Scottish Charity No: SC040805
Patron: Mrs Clare Russell - Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire
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