Controversial Linlithgow homes approved despite locals' concerns

Controversial plans to build 60 new homes on open land in Deanburn Road, Linlithgow have been approved, despite fears from locals that the plans are ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

Sixty new homes will be built here, at Deanburn Road,  Linlithgow.
Sixty new homes will be built here, at Deanburn Road, Linlithgow.

After three hours of debate which heard impassioned pleas from local residents, West Lothian Council’s Development Management Committee accepted that CALA homes had done enough to redraw contentious plans for a junction accessing the new housing. Few locals were appeased, despite the changes.

Several pointed to an already dangerous Preston Road, which is school access to around 2,000 children attending four schools. The Deanburn Road site is almost impossible to access other than by Preston Road.

“It’s a tragic accident waiting to happen,” one objector told the meeting.

CALA had met local residents after the initial plan stalled in March, when councillors agreed that the proposed access road was too much of an incursion on existing homes. The new plans show a redrawn road boundary and the access junction moved 25m further east.

Almost all objectors acknowledged the redraw was an improvement, but were fundamentally opposed to the plans going ahead in any form.

Eleven new objections had been submitted. Six objectors were able to address the meeting.

Many were unhappy that they had been unable to speak at the March meeting and unhappier still when asked to limit their comments to the redrawn junction plans rather than wider questions about the principal of the development or concerns about pollution and congestion in Linlithgow.

Their frustration was echoed by one of the local councillors, David Tait, who said the meeting had shown how difficult it was for the public to get their views and opinions taken seriously in the format of five or ten minutes to address the committee.

Chairing the meeting, Councillor Charles Kennedy defended the amount of time objectors had been given to speak both at this and earlier hearings under the committee rules.

“I hope residents understand there was no attempt to stifle their views.”

Those who did speak asked why no plans had been produced by the house-builder to show the amount of construction traffic using the site over two years of building work.

CALA representatives pointed to their other construction sites in the town and elsewhere, defending their construction and health and safety records, as well as their work with communities and with sub-contractors and delivery drivers.

Much of the debate centred around whether pollution levels and congestion should be addressed across the town including whether developer money should be used to improve motorway access and other road improvements.

Councillor Willie Boyle suggested a motion which looked at the “bigger picture” proposing refusal of planning permission until these issues were addressed. That failed to attract support.

Similarly, Councillor Tait proposed taking no action until an agreement had been reached between the Scottish Government and the council on how developer contributions should be spent. That too failed to attract support.

Both councillors registered their abstention from a motion by Provost Tom Kerr who proposed acceptance of the modified plans with conditions including extra traffic management.

Provost Kerr praised the ” good debate” adding public input was “articulate and understandable”.

Those behind the plans obviously welcomed the approval. Derek Lawson, strategic land director with CALA Homes (East), said: “This approval is the result of effective engagement with the local community and that has been instrumental in shaping our proposals. Latterly, this has enabled us to work with neighbours to deliver major changes to the site access.

“Likewise, the West Lothian planning department has been consulted and kept closely informed at all stages. We’re looking forward to developing the site in the months ahead and providing a range of homes that become a positive addition to this area.

“We will continue that communication throughout the construction process, to hopefully ease some local concerns – and will work to establish a community liaison group.”