Developers still want to build in Bonnybridge

Part of the site the firm still hopes to build on
Part of the site the firm still hopes to build on
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Developers have hit back after their bid to build in Bonnybridge was rejected.

Planning permission in principal for the site on the outskirts of the village was voted out at a special meeting of Falkirk Council.

The decision has left local firm Antonine Property Group claiming the community has been robbed of the chance to grow.

Its bold plans would have seen a 70-acre site either side of the A803 targeted for housing, sports and leisure facilities and a residential nursing home.

Around 80 of the 200 homes to be built would have been available to the council to rent out while the all-weather and multi-purpose grass pitches would be used by over a dozen local football teams. The sports centre and home would also have created up to 50 permanent jobs.

Over 1600 members of the public, 41 businesses and 18 local football teams signed a petition and sent letters of support but the application was refused by 18 votes to 13.

Councillors were told by planning officers the scheme broke existing structure and local planning rules.

There were also concerns about how close the build would be to two high pressure gas mains running under the site.

During a two-hour debate there was clear support for affordable housing coming to the area. Councillor Linda Gow said that would be a “major” gain and Councillor Gerry Goldie, convener of the housing committee, admitted: “I will support any application to build quality housing. It also provides for a care home, something the chances of this council building are zilch.”

Yesterday (Wednesday) Antonine Group director Allan Bell admitted the decision had left his firm “bitterly disappointed”.

He said: “We have already spent a six-figure sum getting this far. A decision to grant would have given us sufficient comfort to spend a further six figure sum to present a full planning application which satisfied all the conditions.

“The people of Bonnybridge consistently supported this project. It is disappointing a proposal offering affordable housing, sports facilities, nursing home and permanent jobs was not supported.”

A number of Labour councillors joined with SNP and non-aligned members in opposing the application.

They claimed it went too far beyond provision laid out in the area’s local plans previously agreed.

Mr Bell also questioned the part the presence of the gas main played in the reason for refusal.

He said: “Under Scottish Executive guidelines that is not a material consideration in a planning application. Planning officers confirmed Falkirk Community Stadium at Westfield which can hold 10,000 people is adjacent to a major gas main but that did not stop the SNP supporting that application.”

The firm has not given up on the scheme. Meetings with its planning and architects team will be held to agree the next step.