Agreement reached on major developments

Haining Castle near Whitecross falls within the area earmarked for major development that will create jobs and investment
Haining Castle near Whitecross falls within the area earmarked for major development that will create jobs and investment

Two huge building projects with the potential to create hundreds of jobs and deliver a massive shot in the arm to the local economy have been approved.

Major developments for Whitecross and Almondhall Farm were agreed in principle when Falkirk Council’s planning committee met on Wednesday.

Councillors also cleared the way for the multi-million pound Helix Trust scheme to move onto the next level and backed plans to save one of the oldest listed private houses in the district for posterity.

Over 1500 houses, a new primary school, public parks, sports areas, green space, community and business opportunities and improved motorway links and have been earmarked by developers to transform a 130-hectare site between Whitecross and the former Manuel brickworks.

At the same time 13 hectares of Almondhall Farm which stands either side of the Union Canal has been targeted as the site for a marina, moorings, boat yard, visitor facility and holiday hotel.

Both schemes will take years to finish and council planners admit the timetable will be dictated by the pace of the economic recovery, but the planning committee agree they have the potential to deliver a substantial regeneration package.

On the Whitecross plan council leader Craig Martin said: “It’s an exciting development which obviously has to be welcomed but will be very challenging to deliver.”

Last month over 100 householders packed the local primary school to hear developers Morston Assets, who are financing both projects, outline their plans for the village. Their plans for a ‘Canal Hub’ at Almondhall Farm are equally ambitious with substantial road works involved to link both schemes.

Local councillor John McLuckie, depute convener of the committee, said: “This is another major application we are considering today, but one that is going to be a great asset to the district.”

Committee convener Councillor Billy Buchanan said: “I was disappointed a lot of what was included in the Millennium Link scheme did not come to fruition, but this is going to make up for that.”

Earlier the committee rubber-stamped a recommendation from Rhona Geisler, the director of development services, to grant the Helix Trust planning permission for its Central Park next to Falkirk Community Stadium at Westfield and gave plans to restore and refurbish Lathallan House in Polmont tentative approval.

Plans for the B-listed property, which is 185 years old, include converting it into nine flats and building up to 39 new houses on the grounds. The developers have been asked to provide new designs for the properties more in keeping with the style of the house and more information on the timetable of the proposed work.