Fears over Torwood homes

Torwood is surrounded by woodland and overlooked by Torwood Castle
Torwood is surrounded by woodland and overlooked by Torwood Castle
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The character of a rural hamlet must be protected according to residents.

Historic Torwood is surrounded by woodland and overlooked by Torwood Castle, but locals are worried the village could be ruined by house building.

Peter O’Rourke has lived in Torwood, near Larbert, for 26 years and says there is a constant stream of applications to build in the area.

He said: “Torwood is unique. It is a rural setting, giving the impression of being in the middle of the countryside, but only minutes from Stirling and Larbert.

“I can understand why people want to live here, but there is just not the infrastructure - the roads, shops or facilities - in place to support this.

“We know it is an area of historical importance, the woods are royal woods with an abundance of wildlife, but this is at risk if they keep giving new homes the green light.”

Last week Falkirk Council’s planning committee approved plans to build a new house in the garden of an existing plot, cutting down some trees to accommodate it. This was granted, after a lengthy debate, despite the development being contrary to the local plan and the structure plan for countryside and protected areas. At the same meeting, an application to build three homes in Torwood was on the agenda and committee members will carry out a site visit before making a decision.

Bill Robertson from Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood Community Council said there have been several houses given planning despite being contrary to the Local Plan.

“The Local Plan produced in 2007 marked only the old Torwood School as suitable ground for housing, but that has been left untouched and instead various other developments have been given the go ahead. The village is one of importance, both historically and environmentally with the surrounding woodland, and it needs to be protected.”

Joanna Stevenson, chairperson of Torwood Woodland Group, agreed.

She said: “The woodland surrounding Torwood was used as the resting place for the Scottish troops before the Battle of Bannockburn and there is one of Scotland’s last remaining brochs - a defence structure - in the woods which dates back to the Iron Age.

“The wood is of massive importance and I just don’t understand why the council isn’t doing all it can to protect it.

Councillors can’t even claim there is a housing demand as there are currently at least seven houses up for sale in such a tiny village, and I know of at least another two residents who want to sell but there is too much competition.

“Each additional home eats into the woodland and we are worried. Each home that is approved sets the precedent for future applications.

“It’s disappointing that yet another house has been granted planning permission, to the detriment of the woodland, the area and the community.”