Gap site could create 205 jobs

A NOTORIOUS Bo’ness gap site could be in line for a new 60-bed nursing home, close care assisted living units plus a ‘light industrial’ tenant, creating 205 jobs and enhancing a key gateway to the town.

An application for planning permission in principle has been lodged with Falkirk Council for the old Russell Athletic factory site off Linlithgow Road, opposite the fire station.

Applicants Mr and Mrs Gordon McLean, of Bo’ness, already have a ‘big, Scottish-based player’ in place for their nursing home proposal, and a ‘potential, major client’ - currently locally based - to become sole industrial tenant.

Gordon, speaking to the Journal and Gazette about the very latest on the proposal, said: “I think everybody in the town would like to see something done.”

Construction of the site, currently owned by liquidators Campbell Dallas, would be kept local, he said, and if the planning process was straightforward, work could start within three to six months.

The whole site would be developed at once and he confirmed it was not going to be for a supermarket.

The potential jobs would comprise 130 posts in the nursing/close care element, and 75 at the industrial space.

“Apart from the job creation, as you drive into town it’s a main entrance. At the moment what do you see, an eyesore. You can imagine seeing a very impressive building,” said Gordon.

Agents are BG Architects of Linlithgow. Early indications are for a two-storey nursing home, and three single level detached care units.

These would all be on the east of the plot, which the applicants say would be more visually attractive next to Linlithgow Road, with the taller nursing home to the rear/north.

A landscaped buffer is envisaged between these and the western industrial element - layout yet to be determined - next to existing industrial units.

Currently the land, vacant for over seven years, is designated entirely for business/employment use.

In a supporting statement, several factors are given backing partial use for a nursing home and close care units.

These include them generating jobs, and a lack of interest in the site as a single-use development.

The application was validated by the council’s planning department last week and no decision will be taken before April 20 at the earliest.

Residents have long complained about the state of the vacant plot.

Community council convener Madelene Hunt said the nursing home idea had been mooted and viewed favourably, but there had been no information at that point on the industrial element. It will be discussed in due course.

Local dogwalker, Robert McGregor (58) of Liddle Drive, contacted the Journal and Gazette this week about the state of the site: “It’s a shambles, an absolute eyesore.”

While his preference would be for a retail park, he said: “I’d be happy with what’s proposed but I’m really really cautious,” citing previous stalled developments elsewhere in town.

Forthview Crescent’s Gail Nash (41) drives past the site to work and said: “I suppose the main thing is getting that site used. The fact that it would bring business and job opportunities to the area would be absolutely fantastic.”

nScotland Gas Networks is clearing soil left on the site by its contractors while recent works were done on Borrowstoun Road. It was shifted to keep the road open. The site owners could not be traced by contractors.