Whitecross masterplan under threat

Fears have been expressed for Whitecross redevelopment after lead developer went into administration.
Fears have been expressed for Whitecross redevelopment after lead developer went into administration.

Councillors have given developers more time to move forward ambitious plans for a major build at Whitecross.

The scheme to transform the former Manuel Works was placed in doubt in December when Morston Assets, the company behind the mega-build, went bust.

That left key legal agreements still to be signed and the future of its planning bid for the regeneration of the area, granted permission in principal in May 2011, in doubt.

When Falkirk Council’s planning committee metearlier this week, director of development services Rhona Geisler warned she could recommend the application be refused unless the paperwork is signed by July. However, the committee agreed to take the time to get more information before making a decision.

Convener, Baillie Billy Buchanan, said: “This is a major issue, one of the biggest ever to come before this committee.

“It has unfortunately been clouded by the fact the lead developer has gone into administration.

“The Whitecross community has been excited by the benefits this development would bring.

“Their anticipation and expectation was very high.

“However, the economic downturn has had an impact and we need more details before we sign off on anything.

“This is one of the most important decisions this committee will ever have to make and we have to get it right.”

The 2011 ‘masterplan’ for the massive 130 hectare site included 1500 houses, a new village centre with a primary school, medium sized store and smaller shops.

Also planned is an ‘Institute of Enterprise’ including a community hall, community meeting place, health clinic and a multi-functional space for community activities.

There were even plans to extend Muiravonside Cemetery and connect Whitecross to the national gas supply.

In 2011 Morston Assets claimed it intended to make the village a “leading example” of sustainable development in Scotland with a vision to create an exciting, vibrant and socially integrated mixed-use community attractive to both live and work in.

Baillie Buchanan added: “Four years is a long time to wait for things to happen but the benefits to the community if this regeneration can go ahead are well known.”