Trust hits out at Vennel plans

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Linlithgow Civic Trust has raised concern over the “wholly inadequate” plans for the redevelopment of The Vennel.

The group reacted after West Lothian Council published a draft planning brief last week outlining proposals to regenerate the area – but the Trust say they are “too vague”.

Under the new plans retail, commercial, tourism and community outdoor space opportunities were being explored.

The library and other services at The Vennel are moving into the new Linlithgow Partnership Centre, which has created this chance to improve the development of the scheme which was built in the 1960s.

An eight-week public consultation on the proposals is set to be held before the summer but the Trust hit out stating the plans to be consulted on are not clear.

Chairman of the Trust, Chris Long said: “The Trust is pleased that some attention is now being devoted to the future of the area concerned ... but consider the present draft planning guidance to be wholly inadequate for such consultation.

“The Trust’s main concerns are that the guidance is very vague on how exactly the site should be redeveloped.

“It considers it is essential that a proper detailed development brief is prepared setting out all necessary requirements and parameters, before prospective developers are invited to bid for the site, let alone apply for planning permission.

“The Trust’s planning spokesman David Timperley said ‘restricting housing to suit the current capacity at Linlithgow Academy is very short-sighted’.”

The council refuted the Trust’s claim stressing the guidance aims to generate interest.

A council spokesperson said: “We would emphasise that the guidelines have been drafted to guide development and set out factors which should be considered in any future re-development of the area.

“The draft guidance is not designed to set out exactly how the site should be developed, and we refute the Trust’s claims that the draft guidance is inadequate.

“The guidelines will be published shortly for wider public comment and we hope that local people and groups do put forward their views.

“We would emphasise that the guidance aims to stimulate interest, debate and comment. All comments received will be reviewed by the council and thereafter inform the future of the Vennel area.”