Development plan offers bright future for Falkirk Gateway

An artist's impression of how the urban quarter could look
An artist's impression of how the urban quarter could look

The next phase of a £67 million spend to attract business and create jobs has been agreed by councillors.

Land at the Falkirk Gateway and Falkirk Stadium has been earmarked for £17 million to help create a new urban quarter at the eastern entrance to the town.

The success of the Helix Park and proposed £75 million new campus at Forth Valley College will also be showcased as good reasons why firms should invest in the area.

Councillors have been told promoting the four sites together presents an “unparalleled opportunity” to move the Falkirk Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) project forward.

The executive was told the area which covers over 376 acres could be a flagship development offering commercial, business, leisure and residential opportunities with the potential to transform the local economy.

Rhona Geisler, director of development services, said: “It is an innovative and ambitious project, just the type of thing Falkirk Council wants to be involved with.”

The Falkirk Gateway is seen as a huge opportunity for mixed commercial use. Plans for the stadium, home to Falkirk Football Club, include building the east stand and developing the four corners of the ground and adjacent land.

Forth Valley College has funding approval to build a new £75 million campus for 10,000 students which is expected to act as a springboard for further investment in the area, with the council and Falkirk Community Trust already considering building an arts and civic centre there.

Falkirk’s £43 million Helix Park, home to the internationally famous Kelpies, is already a success story and will be promoted to showcase what can be achieved.

The latest TIF development programme has been updated to accommodate the plans – but the revised schedule still includes improvements at the Westfield roundabout and the building of the elevated circular pedestrian and cycle crossing which will connect all four sites, although they are not now expected to be delivered until 2018 at the earliest.

The director said: “Development interest in the area is increasing, helped by the success of the Helix and improved market conditions. The council aims to capitalise on this upturn and be in a position to capture investment and accommodate developer and occupier needs as they emerge.

“The principal focus of the framework is on the Falkirk Gateway and Stadium. The Helix is included, not as a development site, but because of the potential linkages it presents in terms of market potential and place making. The Forth Valley College site is subject to a parallel masterplanning exercise linked to the final business case and included because of the important linkages with the rest of the area.”

Council leader Craig Martin said: “These exciting plans for a new sustainable urban quarter signal another step in the transformation of Falkirk’s economic fortunes.

“The Gateway is a prime site to attract jobs, investment and development to our area. With the huge growing appeal of the Kelpies, the Community Stadium facility and the forthcoming Forth Valley College campus, there’s huge investment potential for developers across tourism, business and leisure.

“Through the Falkirk Tax Incremental Finance initiative we have the lever to prepare the site for development and create the connections needed to support the expected traffic flow and footfall.

“This report shows we are making good progress.”