Off the buses

130212 Linl;ithgow bus station pix.
130212 Linl;ithgow bus station pix.
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PLANS for a multi- million pound retirement complex on Linlithgow High Street have bit the dust as First Bus has decided not to leave its town centre depot.

Designs for a 41 apartment complex for the over-60s were drawn up by developers McCarthy and Stone over a year ago for the town centre location owned by First Bus, after the transport company put the site on the market and made moves to relocate.

The bus firm says it had to review the best location for its base and that staying put will keep jobs in Linlithgow.

McCarthy and Stone’s proposals detailed privately owned homes with a resident’s lounge, communal gardens, landscaped grounds, secure entry systems, guest accommodation and 20 parking bays. Plans also included two ground floor retail units on the site which would face the High Street.

Steve Wiseman, managing director at McCarthy and Stone, said: “Everyone was supportive of the plans and we had been given planning consent. We were raring to go, we had done everything we had to do, and our plans were to start building very soon.

“It’s disappointing that First Bus have decided to review their situation and have made it clear they no longer wish to relocate - it’s disappointing for us and for the people of Linlithgow, quite a number of whom had already made inquiries about the housing. It would have benefitted the elderly in the town and it also means that £90,000 in affordable housing contributions negotiated with the council will no longer be paid.

“I think the locals would have been quite happy to see First Bus move out of the town. From a planning point of view it’s not a good use of the space.”

Last June, First Bus submitted plans to Falkirk Council for a site on Bridgeness Road, Bo’ness, which were approved by the authority. However, following the recent announcement from First Bus, McCarthy and Stone now have no alternative but to withdraw their proposals.

A First Bus spokesperson said: “Due to the changes in the bus service operator grant (BSOG) which has just been announced, we had to review the best operating base for our business needs. Routes to be operated from the depot will be reviewed in the near future.’’

John Gorman, operations director for First Scotland East added: “I am pleased to announce that we have decided to remain at our Linlithgow depot for the foreseeable future. We have operated out of this depot for decades and this decision will ensure we remain in a prime location in the heart of our traditional operating area. With this we have also secured employment which will benefit the town centre as a whole.”

Linlithgow councillor Tom Conn expressed disappointment at the loss of retirement flats for residents in a town centre location, adding the redevelopment of the site would have improved the town.

Martyn Day, councillor for development and transport, also said he was surprised at the move adding: “Council officers will be talking to First Bus about any changes to services this week.

‘‘It was a development that would have made Linlithgow Town Centre more attractive.”

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