Fears over a loss of green belt and road safety led the objections at a meeting this week to discuss plans to build 225 new homes in Bo’ness.
The planning application in principle to build on 12 acres of farmland to the south of Bo’ness Fire Station was presented to councillors at a special meeting in Bo’ness Academy on Monday evening.
The pre-determination hearing saw around 20 members of the public join the councillors to hear what developers MacTaggart & Mickel and AWG had to say and ask questions about the plans.
Councillors heard there had been seven letters of objection and an online petition with over 200 signatures received. Most objectors were concerned about the loss of increasingly vanishing green belt, with one member of the public saying: “We will lose the only bit of green left between Bo’ness and Linlithgow.”
Another said: “I think people living there will shop in Linlithgow – I don’t see what advantages it will bring to the people of Bo’ness. We don’t have enough facilities as it is for the town – we already have the threat of the recreation centre being closed.”
Several speakers were concerned about additional traffic the development would bring to Crawfield Road.
Community council convener Madelene Hunt said: “We are concerned about the traffic and two more roads coming out on to the already busy road isn’t going to help.”
She said the community council would like more detail about the traffic calming measures the developers have promised to put in place.
Councillor Joan Coombes asked if the plans to close part of the Bo’ness Road in Grangemouth had been taken into account as this could impact on traffic in Bo’ness itself and she asked that this be given consideration.
Speaking on behalf of the developers, planning consultant Colin Lavety said that they had held several consultation events before seeking planning permission and had taken the feedback on board.
He said: “We’ve listened to the community and we will have 75 affordable homes – that’s one-third of the development. We will also have land for community use, whether that’s a health centre or retail or some other community facility.”
One speaker questioned the fact that this proposal was vague.
However, Mr Lavety said that while people said they wanted community facilities there had been no consensus about exactly what they wanted, although the developers have also said they will include a foot and cycle path network as well as open space.
Mr Laverty also said they are working with Falkirk Council’s roads department on a transport assessment and it had not flagged up any major issues.
There had been no response from the NHS about any impact the development would have on health services.
In conclusion, Mr Lavety said the developers are adamant that “there is no other suitable site” in Bo’ness. Although he admitted the green belt site is not in the Local Development Plan, he said he believed the shortfall in housing for Falkirk district over the next five years would need to be taken into consideration.
Councillors cannot comment on planning matters before the application goes to a full council meeting for a final decision. If approved, detailed plans will then be submitted to Falkirk Council.