A MASSIVE re-development planned for Winchburgh could have a dramatic impact on the village and the surrounding area.
CALA Land Investments Ltd has submitted its outline planning application — covering 416 hectares including the existing village's 69 ha — to West Lothian Council.
The plans are now available for scrutiny at County Buildings in Linlithgow, with Monday the closing date for people to register their views.
Included in the CALA proposals outline planning application are 3,450 homes. And to sustain that level of building, the developers will also have to deliver:
* A NEW town centre, with supermarket;
* TWO secondary schools — one denominational, one non-denominational, co-located on a single campus;
* FOUR primary schools co-located on two sites, one in the south west and one in the east;
* HOLY Family and Winchburgh Primary Schools enlarged and refurbished to accommodate another primary school stream;
* railway station, with park and ride facilities, in the town centre;
* NEW junction on the M9 motorway, with park and ride facilities;
* NEW health centre;
* MAJOR employment sites at Duntarvie, adjacent to the M9;
* A NEW town park.
In a nod to Winchburgh's proud shale mining industry, a former claypit at the centre of the development will be used as a "focal point".
Also being utilised to "help define the character of the development", the Glasgow to Edinburgh rail line and Union Canal which both run through the site.
Villagers may not be completely taken aback by the scale of development, as it was previously highlighted in the finalised West Lothian Local Plan 2005. But with outline plans submitted, the reality of their village becoming a town may now hit home.
And there is little doubt that the development will materialise as the plans were also included in the Edinburgh and the Lothians Structure Plan (ELSP) 2015 — approved by Scottish ministers last June.
It's now more a question of when the blueprint will start taking shape. CALA hopes work will start in 2007, so for villagers the clock is now ticking.
Claypit, Glendevon North, Glendevon South, Myreside, Niddry Mains North and Niddry Mains South will house the 3,450 new homes and associated amenities. But villagers may not notice an immediate impact as CALA proposes to phase the development over 12 years.
Around 300 houses of various types will be built each year, a proportion of which will be classed "affordable homes".
Here's how CALA envisages the new-look Winchburgh starting to take shape in the first four years, possibly from 2007 to 2010:
* Houses built around Glendevon, the Town Centre and Beatlie;
* Secondary schools campus developed, boasting five football pitches, a grass running track, fenced and floodlit synthetic pitch, multi-sports arena including swimming pool, tennis courts, a small changing pavilion and parking. Facilities to be shared between schools and wider community. Campus will also provide interim primary school provision whilst new Glendevon primary school campus is developed and existing Winchburgh and Holy Family Primary Schools are upgraded;
* New Broxburn-Winchburgh link road built;
* New road through the town centre also built, although not connecting with M9 at this stage;
* Main Street re-aligned at either end for traffic calming;
* Faucheldean-Main Street road connection established;
* Significant landscaping across Craigton, Glendevon, Faucheldean, the town centre — including the new town park — and west of Hawkhill, including new facilities at Craigton District Park, the secondary schools campus and Niddry Park. upgraded.
In its application to West Lothian Council CALA states: "The proposed phasing programme, which integrates road infrastructure, landscape and buildings, has been devised to ensure that the growth of Winchburgh is achieved in a coherent and logical fashion.
"CALA's strategy for phasing will aim to ensure that development will feel like a 'natural' growth.
"Development is currently envisaged to begin in 2007 with an average annual residential completion-rate of approximately 300 units per year."
In a statement supporting the planning application, CALA said: "While the proposal is predominantly residential, it incorporates a mix of uses including schools, retail shops, employment areas and community facilities.
"These services will allow residents to both live and work within the new development. The site is situated such that it can integrate with existing motorway and railway routes, and offers convenient access to the Union Canal corridor.
"The development proposal also incorporates a number of footpaths, cyclepaths and public transportation routes to enhance accessibility.
"The expanded community at Winchburgh will provide new residents with good access to employment and community services. It is anticipated that most, if not all, facilities and infrastructure will be provided by the developer as part of the proposals."
Also identified in the plan are four flexible development areas, for future expansion: Western Glendevon, Niddry Castle Bing, South Winchburgh and Faucheldean.
It is unlikely that West Lothian Council will make any decision until the Local Plan Inquiry is held early next year.
Torn in two may be the best way to describe Winchburgh councillor Eddie Malcolm's feelings on the development.
For while he welcomes the new facilities, he also knows the village will be swallowed up to become a town.
And he believes that villagers are being burdened with more and more houses, simply to gain the facilities they deserve.
Eddie said this week: "This all started about six years ago when Hopetoun Estate first sought views on building 400 houses.
"A questionnaire was carried out and 82 per cent of folk who responded were in favour of it but the council at the time said it would never happen.
"Then two years later, the council started asking what people thought of 2,000 houses being built. Now that number has been pushed up to 3,450 houses. The reason for that is the council is asking the developer to pay for all the amenities. So in order to make it worth their while, they've got to build more houses.
"There's nothing in Winchburgh because the council's closed all the facilities. Folk shouldn't have to agree to a massive housing development just to get the amenities they deserve. People realise the development is going to happen — but I think they feel they've been hijacked."
But Councillor Malcolm admitted that the development could be good for future generations.
He said: "There's just over 1,000 houses at the moment. What they're proposing is a town bigger than Linlithgow was in 1964.
"But I've got very mixed views on the development because I can understand both sides.
"There are people in the village that don't know whether they want to live in a town, but they're going to have to...like it or not.
"There are also people who are all for it because they can see the benefits of the amenities and facilities coming in.
"I don't think we should be holding back progress, because of personal views, especially when some of us won't be here to see the final transformation. We should be thinking of people in future who could benefit from this.
"But it's also my view that the village has been treated shabbily by the council. It has taken advantage of folk's goodwill by continually increasing the number of houses."
Another sticking point for Mr Malcolm is CALA's proposal for a "proportion of affordable housing" in the scheme.
He added: "I have already demanded that 15 per cent of these new homes should be affordable, rented housing.
"That would alleviate a lot of the problems experienced by villagers trying to secure local housing.
"I've had no promise of that and I can't see me getting one but I don't think asking for 450 affordable rented homes in a development of 3,450 is too much to ask for."
The existing Winchburgh village had a population of around 2,500 at the time of the last census in 2001.
* What's YOUR view? Is the plan realistic, or will Winch-burgh lose its unique identity? Write to us at 114 High St, Linlithgow or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!