IT’S THE final countdown for the decision on Linlithgow’s most controversial planning application in living memory.
Plans proposed by Wallace Land for a £90 million mixed use development including 600 homes, a community park and dance studio, supermarket, care home, hotel, conference centre and a new M9 access at Burghmuir have encountered a large amount of local opposition. Around 1175 letters have been written objecting to the proposals and town groups are gearing up for a showdown with Wallace Land, thought to be at the end of October, when a final decision will be made by West Lothian Council.
At a Town Management Group meeting this week, Linlithgow Civic Trust set out its case against the development.
Spokesman Iain Paton said: “The scale of the development, the consequences of retail trade diversion and the visual impact in this prominent location are all unacceptable.”
He added the application was premature as the West Lothian Local Development Plan would be consulting on over 4000 housing units on proposed sites by developers around Linlithgow, including the Burghmuir location.
He said: “The development of Linlithgow, including this site, should be considered as a whole, aligned with West Lothian, over the next 12 months through the proper planning process.”
He claimed the retail impact of a 60,000 sqft superstore would divert trade from Linlithgow town centre resulting in shop closures.
Linlithgow Civic Trust also believes education concerns have not been addressed and that an imminent council school catchment consultation in Linlithgow could rejig local primary school catchments.
Iain added: “This is the wrong development, in the wrong place, putting money in the hands of developers while simultaneously putting health services and shopping facilities beyond the easy reach of those most in need.”
Linlithgow Business Association is also writing to each of West Lothian’s 33 councillors asking them to vote against the plans.
But this week Wallace Land bit back saying they had support from community groups and the business community.
Jason Wallace said: “We are delighted with the extensive support we have received from organisations such as the West Lothian Chamber of Commerce for this development.
‘‘This is reinforced with the strong support noted from businesses in the town which recognise they will benefit consid- erably from a development that will create hundreds of jobs and bring new people into the town.”
He added the Retail Impact Assessment showed that town centre traders would benefit from an extra £5.7m in retail expenditure by 2019 due to the development, not including tourists attracted by the new M9 slip roads.
Jason added: “The council’s own figures indicate there is enough capacity to accommodate the development at both the primary schools and Academy, especially given the failure of other developments in West Lothian to come forward.”
He added there was a clear shortage of local housing and the sites currently identified by the council to deliver housing were doing so at a much reduced rate than previously envisaged, and there had been no objections from Historic Scotland or other consultees on the development’s visual impact.
Jason went on: “We would very much welcome the opportunity to see the research the Civic Trust has undertaken that indicates the development will have a negative impact on the town centre.”
The Wallace Land proposals will be discussed by West Lothian planners before a final decision is made by the full council, thought to be by the end of next month.