Work has started to construct a new village square on Balloch Road beside Moss O'Balloch Park.

It marks the first phase of a project which seeks to make major improvements to the town.

The plans aim to transform the area's public spaces and improve connections for pedestrians and cyclists from public transport to visitor attractions.

Changes as part of this initial phase include wider paving in certain sections to enhance space and introduce the possibility for a cafe culture and seating areas.

Narrower roads and official parking spaces have also been incorporated into the design in a bid to lower average speeds and discourage illegal parking.

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, was joined by council leader Jonathan McColl as the first sod was cut at the site.

He said: “This marks the beginning of a very exciting project for Balloch and one that will transform the way it looks and feels to residents and visitors.

“As a gateway to the National Park and Loch Lomond, Balloch already draws guests from all over the world, and the improvements that will come about as part of this project are sure to enhance tourism even further.

“This will have a significant beneficial impact on businesses and is likely to encourage start-ups to consider the area in the future.

“The square is a vital part of this project because I have no doubt that it will encourage community events like markets and performances, and give the village a definite focal point.”

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Work started on site on January 21 and traffic management measures, including some periods of road closures, will be in place around the area.

The second phase will be focused on Station Square – a public square at Balloch train station.

Jim Biddulph, a member of Balloch and Haldane Community Council, said, however, that he would have liked to see work at the new village square and the station happen at the same time.

He told the Reporter: "The community council were disappointed the station square couldn't be done at the same time as the streetscape.

"The whole idea is to revitalise and regenerate Balloch and the only way to do that is to upgrade infrastructure. We don't know what the finish will be like, so it's a case of watching and seeing how it develops.

"Only when it's finished do you see how nice it's going to be. But looking nice doesn't mean to say it will be accepted by the general public using the road."

The construction of the village square was one of the initiatives proposed by the Live in Balloch Charrette in 2016 to breathe new life into the area.

Following phase two at station square, a third phase is planned covering Balloch Road West, which will see realignment and narrowing of the main carriageway between Pier Road and Ben Lomond Way,

raised table crossings incorporated into the design in key locations at Drumkinnon Road, Clairnish Road and Craiglomond Gardens and car parking on both sides of the road formalised by the creation of marked parking bays.

Cllr McNair added: “I am delighted to be here today to see work beginning on this important development.

“This project was born at the Live in Balloch Charette in 2016 and I hope residents here can see their ideas for improving the area starting to come to fruition.

“When this work in completed, Balloch will be transformed for the better and I look forward to seeing it progress.”