Changes to shape of things coming to Falkirk

The land at Bonnybridge which could become available for development
The land at Bonnybridge which could become available for development

Falkirk Council’s plans for the town over the next 20 years have been criticised for leaning too far towards housing.

At a special meeting of Falkirk Council’s economic strategy and development committee last Monday, members backed a draft local development plan, which sets out the broad vision for the future of the area for the years 2014 to 2034.

Committee convener Dennis Goldie put forward several motions, which were agreed by all members, to be entered into the proposed plan.

These included earmarking a site at Loughlands, Larbert, for economic development with the potential to extend Lochlands Industrial Estate and redesignating land at Glasgow Road Industrial Estate, Camelon, from a core business area to a business area with potential for redevelopment.

Another motion, to allow a mixed use development - which could include housing, a nursing home and sports and recreation facilities - in East Bonnybridge was approved, despite objections from Councillor Tom Coleman.

Under current guidelines past applications like Antonine Property Developments’ plans to build 200 new homes, a nursing home and a community sports hub on the greenbelt land were deemed contrary to the local plan.

By accepting the motion members were in effect giving the green light for any future developments of this kind.

Councillor Coleman said the infrastructure in place in the area would not be able to cope with such developments and stated the local community council was against further development.

He added: “I would consider it reckless to include this proposal within the development plan. Part of the problem with the development plan is there is too much bias towards housing.”

Councillor Linda Gow voted for the inclusion of the proposal.

She said: “We know there are problems with schools and infrastructure, but we need to make a decision to at least give future developers the opportunity to build there.”

Councillor Martin Oliver put forward a number of amendments for proposals to be included in the plan, but all but one was voted out by members.

His unsuccessful proposals included deleting the housing sites at Kilsyth Road, Haggs; Seabegs Road, Greenhill; and Broomhill Road, High Bonnybridge, from the plan.

Councillor Oliver said: “There is no space in these places for additional houses to be built and there is no infrastructure in place to cope.”

In coming up with the draft plan put before members, officers consulted members of the public and engaged with key agencies including Transport Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and NHS Forth Valley.

Now it has been approved by the committee it will go before full council and, if given the go ahead, will then be subject to a six-week consultation starting in April, when the proposed plan would be formally published.

Following that consultation, representations could be considered, with the council making further modifications to the proposed plan before submitting it to Scottish Ministers for their consideration.