Green light for Whitecross development

DESPITE hearing that it could take a generation for the re-birth of Whitecross to be completed, councillors this week took the first steps towards securing that objective.

On Wednesday, Falkirk Council’s regulatory committee gave approval ‘‘in principle’’ for Morston Assets’ blueprint for the former Hepworth Refractories site and the surrounding land.

And, minutes after giving the green light for up to 1500 new homes, industrial and business units and a new village school, councillors signalled their approval for another bumper package prepared by the Norfolk-based company.

Hard on the heels of the first planning application, came a bid to transform the Union Canal west of Whitecross - which could create up to 80 jobs in the process.

The second application was for planning consent for a marina, moorings, visitor facility, boat servicing facilities, a footbridge and a hotel on land near Almondhall Farm.

Instead of bemoaning the fact that the district could wait years to reap the benefits, councillors were queuing up to praise Morston Assets, despite its admission that it could take several years before the district begins to feel the benefits of the projected developments which also include the difficult and expensive task of refurbishing the ruinous Almond Castle.

Councillor John McLuckie, an Upper Braes Ward councillor, told the committee: ‘‘The propposals will be hugely beneficial to the people of Whitecross. This will bring jobs to Whitecross.’’

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s culture, leisure and tourism convener, speaking about the Union Canal application said: ‘‘It will be a great addition to tourism in the Falkirk area.’’

And Councillor Malcolm Nicol (Lower Braes) chimed in: ‘‘It’s an exciting development.’’

Also on Wednesday, the regulatory committee considered an ambitious plan for fire-ravaged Lathallan House.

Rowanhill Development Ltd. had submitted proposals to convert the shell of the house into apartments.

It also planned to build around 40 ‘‘state of the art’’ homes in the grounds.

But councillors felt that the design of the projected homes needed some amendment.

They agreed to continue the application in order that the architect could amend his designs.