Billion pound plans for village

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A FULL scale £1 billion transformation of Winchburgh was given the thumbs up this week by West Lothian Council.

The local authority has granted planning permission in principle for what is one of the UK’s single largest residential and mixed use developments, predicting thousands of jobs and major improvements for the area.

The 870 acre development masterplan details 3450 homes, including affordable housing, a new town centre with retail, commercial and leisure facilities, land for a partnership centre, three neighbourhood retail/commercial centres, remediation of the Auldcathie landfill site and a canal basin.

Major transport improvements include a new motorway junction and road connections, a new railway station, a new distributor road connection to Broxburn, a network of paths, and two park and ride facilities.

The expansion will also result in two secondary schools on a joint campus, with school and community sports pitches and facilities. Two or three new primary schools, as required, and improvements to the existing primary school buildings are also in the plan. New leisure facilities include a town park around the former claypit, a district park and three neighbourhood parks with play and sports facilities.

Necessary paperwork, including the Section 75 agreement, has now paved the way for plans to go ahead.

Detailed planning applications for the first phase of residential development, including 177 new homes, will now be submitted to the council for approval. Sigma Capital Group plc, which is project managing the masterplan, has already secured contracts on behalf of Regenco Trading Ltd with Barratt Homes and Miller Homes, for delivery of the first phase, and subject to detailed planning consent, work is expected to start in August.

Graham Barnet, CEO of Sigma, said: “The granting of planning permission in principle for the Winchburgh masterplan unlocks the development of this substantial site. We are delighted to have reached this landmark and will be supporting the next stage, which involves early delivery of 177 new homes.”

But some locals are not popping their champagne corks just yet.

Yvonne Ledgerwood of 153 Millgate, Winchburgh, said: “As much as I’m delighted the Section 75 has been signed and we’re eventually getting somewhere, I think seeing is believing in my case. If it all goes to plan then the homes, new schools, leisure centre and shops will be amazing, but there have been so many hold ups already, ‘don’t count your chickens’ springs to mind.”

Mary Miller, secretary of Winchburgh Community Council, added: “People in Winchburgh have waited 12 years for development, and now that it has finally arrived it is an anti-climax. Issues we are worried about are secondary school places at Linlithgow Academy for Winchburgh pupils, and restoration of Auldcathie, which we wanted done at the start of the development. A lot more consulation needs to happen - we need to know what will happen years down the line.”

There will be a public meeting on Friday, May 11, in Winchburgh to discuss the development.