Harbour plans officially withdrawn

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AN OFFICIAL line has been drawn under ING’s doomed Bo’ness harbour regeneration project, with the company’s ambitious £170m plans for a marina, hotel, and housing to transform the town formally ditched.

ING has withdrawn three planning applications made to Falkirk Council for the huge development, which were to include 123 apartments, 75 townhouses, a 90 bedroom hotel, yacht club plus restaurants, bars and shops.

This month’s technical abandonment of the scheme came after ING indicated to Falkirk Council last autumn that ‘unprecedented prevailing economic conditions’ were forcing it to withdraw as developers.

This was after them spending ‘significant amounts of money and time’ since 2004 to try and make the scheme work.

Given ING’s position, the council then voted to formally tear up the ING agreement.

In October it backed a recommendation by development services director Rhona Geisler for a fresh report on regeneration opportunities, to remarket the scheme when the economy significantly picked up.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “Bo’ness doesn’t sit in isolation.

“It was the global market. There were issues that affected housebuilding and construction and the viability of projects like this.

“I’d like to see a look at options for the harbour and housing in the future.

“In the current market I don’t think there will be anything immediate on the harbour site.

“I think in the meantime we need to continue to grow the good work in the town centre.”

Councillor Sandy Turner said: “It’s difficult enough in the current economic climate to attract developers for smaller-scale development.

“To find someone that’s interested in taking on a massive development - which is why it’s so key to the town- is really mission impossible at the moment.

“We just have to exercise some patience.

“The best we can do is guard the site and ensure it remains sufficiently intact to realise the dream later on.”

A council spokesman told the Bo’ness Journal on Wednesday: “We have been meeting with developers but no-one is able to commit at this time.

“However, we remain optimistic when there is an upturn in the economic situation we will be in a better position to move forward.

“Officers have been tasked in bringing a report to committee when appropriate.”