Braes plans come under attack

Community councillors Danny Callaghan and Sandy Whyte
Community councillors Danny Callaghan and Sandy Whyte
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Plans by Falkirk Council to build thousands of homes in the Braes have been dealt a blow after objections were raised during a public consultation.

Members of Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone Community Council are concerned over Falkirk Council’s ‘preferred’ proposals for new housing, which, they say, will stretch villages and hamlets in the area to the limit in a bid to ease Falkirk’s chronic housing shortage.

The concerns focus on a lack of infrastructure for schools, roads and health facilities, taking over land that would bring individual villages together and involve building on greenbelt.

Community councillor Danny Callaghan said: “We are particularly concerned about infrastructure and schools capacity. There is nothing that we can see in the plans for improvements to the roads system and with 280 preferred sites in this area alone, with another 1200 on the border, it’s hard to see how we’d be able to cope with the extra traffic. It would cause major problems.”

He added: “The Hillcrest site would be the first step to joining Reddingmuirhead up with Shieldhill, while the Middlerigg one would join it up with Wallacestone.

“There is a real feeling from people in all these communities that we need to preserve the identities of each area.”

The council and local councillors have stressed the proposals are not concrete and will have to go through “stringent” planning procedures before any permission is given.

The council’s local development plan shows both ‘preferred’ and non-preferred’ sites for a total of 3276 new homes over the next 20-odd years.

Of that total, 2546 homes are already committed to be built in the Braes area, while the other 730 are proposed for contentious sites like the preferred Middlerigg (200 homes), Hillcrest (30) and Sunnyside Road (50) sites in the Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone areas. This is on top of around 700 which already have planning consent.

A council spokesman said: “A 12-week consultation has just been completed on the Main Issues Report. We will now consider all views. People will get a further chance to make representations when the Proposed Plan is published sometime next year.”

The area’s six councillors also all have reservations about the level of infrastructure needed to cope with any new housing and support the views expressed by the community council.

Councillor Stephen Fry said he would oppose sites when necessary, but added: “Regeneration in parts of the Upper Braes is paramount if we want to sustain some of our villages.”

Councillor Gordon Hughes said: “Concern has been raised over the open green space between villages. It is feared that each village’s unique identity could be lost.”

The public consultation on the local development plans for the whole Falkirk area closed last Friday. The results will go forward to the next stage, where infrastructure will be addressed.