Major build at Whitecross still possible

Plans for land near Whitecross include 1500 houses
Plans for land near Whitecross include 1500 houses
  • Village masterplan approved in 2011 but legal documents not signed
  • Demise of major developer cast doubt over ambitious development
  • Councillors agree to give time for other parties to confirm plans

Developers have been given 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.

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

Baillie Billy Buchanan

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.

At Falkirk Council’s planning committee, director of development services Rhona Geisler warned she could recommend the application be refused unless the paperwork is signed by July.

The committee agreed however 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, but 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 next door and 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 live and work in.

Baillie Buchanan said: “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.”

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