Multi-million pound 
scheme is key in Falkirk

The view from Eastburn Tower
The view from Eastburn Tower

A multi-million pound scheme designed to kick-start a building boom which could create over 8000 jobs and boost the local economy could start next year.

Falkirk Council’s ambitious plan to borrow millions to get dozens of construction projects underway across the district is ready to be put to the Scottish Government for approval.

Key areas, including the 150 acre Falkirk Gateway site, Earls Gate Park, Abbotsford Business Park and Falkirk Stadium, are all earmarked for investment to get them ready for development.

Massive spending on improving motorway links to established industrial areas is also planned.

The council ‘wish list’ also includes making a 25 per cent contribution towards the final cost of the A801 Avon Gorge upgrade and 10 per cent of the estimated £100 million needed to deliver the Grangemouth flood protection scheme.

Over the next 25 years the scheme has the potential to create 6000 construction sector jobs, turn 400,000 square metres of land into a mecca for businesses and shoppers and give the national economy a £400 million boost each year.

The entire scheme will be funded using the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) initiative. It will mean the council borrowing the cash it needs to provide the infrastructure works from The Treasuries Public Works Loan Board and paying it back from the non-domestic rates it will collect from tenants when the sites are developed and occupied.

The business case for borrowing consent has taken over a year to put together by council experts but is now ready to go to the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust for approval.

It is one of six Scottish TIF projects under consideration.

If it is approved, work marketing the project could start as early as next April.

Members of Falkirk Council’s economic develop­ment committee agreed to move on to the next step when it met this week.

Members were told that once the key ground works are in place a “concerted effort” will be needed to promote the area and attract the investment from business which will be needed to complete the sites.

A marketing campaign with the title ‘Make It Falkirk’ is already being prepared.

Councillors were told by Douglas Duff, the council’s head of economic development: “There are risks, however steps will be taken to minimise them. The TIF initiative presents a major opportunity for the Falkirk area to kick-start development through the provision of advanced infrastructure and to market the area to attract inward investment.”

Committee convener Councillor Dennis Goldie said: “TIF presents the Falkirk Council area with one of the most ambitious opportunities we have ever seen. It would give business a real chance to thrive and expand, create jobs and investment benefiting our area but with a number of risk reduction measures built in, allowing us to take a phased approach.

“We still have a long way to go, but submitting the bid means we are well underway with our plans. We will continue to progress the initiative in the coming year through various other activities such as design, planning and marketing of different aspects of the scheme.”

Councillor Tom Coleman of the SNP said: “The work that has been done so far has been very well constructed. This is a complete Rolls Royce bid and deserves to be approved.”

The proposal will be put to the full council when it meets next Wednesday.