ONE of the most controversial planning applications in a generation to affect Linlithgow was withdrawn this week, days before its fate was due to be decided.
Developers Wallace Land first floated plans for 600 homes, a medium-sized foodstore, a new health centre, a 60 bed care home, a 60 bed hotel, westbound slip roads at Junction 3 on the M9, and land for sports pitches and a dance studio at Burghmuir on the outskirts of Linlithgow, over two years ago.
But on Monday, with only two days to go before a verdict was reached by West Lothian Council, the application was withdrawn. It followed a decision by council planners last week to recommend the proposals be refused.
This week, Jason Wallace of Wallace Land said: “Wallace Land is very disappointed to have had to withdraw the application at this stage, especially when the proposed major development had so many benefits to offer in terms of homes, economic investment, jobs and infra-structure for Linlithgow and West Lothian as whole.
“However, after considering the detail of the committee report and being unable over the past number of months to agree workable solutions on some aspects of the proposal with West Lothian planning officers, we felt it was the right option to withdraw the application at this point.”
But the developers still hope to pursue a planning application for 200 homes on the Burghmuir site and could re-visit the original plan again this summer.
Mr Wallace added: “Wallace Land will continue to pursue the application for up to 200 units and will progress this over the coming weeks.
‘‘We also intend to promote the wider site through the development plan process in order to help West Lothian meet the emerging housing requirement within SESplan (the strategic development plan for south-east Scotland), and the existing shortfall in housing completions within West Lothian.”
The Burghmuir planning application resulted in an unprecedented response, heavily weighted against the plans, with around 1200 comments submitted at the last count.
Campaign group Linlithgow Against Supermarket Development consistently opposed the Burghmuir plans. LASD chairman Nicholas Leonard said: “We welcome the belated decision by Wallace Land to withdraw its planning application.
‘‘The council will be starting consultations on the next local development plan later this year and our campaign group will be monitoring the many proposals which have been put forward for inclusion in that plan to try to ensure that they are in the best interests of Linlithgow.”
The decision also delighted Linlithgow Civic Trust which had serious concerns on the impact of such a large development on the town.
Iain Paton of the Trust said: “It’s a relief that the application has been withdrawn, given the likely impacts, although it would have certainly been refused in line with the recommendation and overwhelming local opinion.”
Referring to the recent council decision to approve an extension to the Tesco at Linlithgow’s Regent Centre, Iain added: “The retail argument has also been resolved and there is no scope for a new superstore without unacceptable impact on the town centres of Linlithgow and Bo’ness.”
It is thought that council approval of the local Tesco extension prompted Wallace Land to attempt to shrink the size of the 3716sqm supermarket in the plans to a 500 square metre corner shop but this was rejected by planners.
Discussion on the local development plan, where proposals for expansion across West Lothian will be assessed, is scheduled to take place this summer.