Land sale bid could lead to closure of Cloybank Estate

A country estate that offers outdoor pursuits alongside employment training could be forced to close for good, Falkirk Council has been told.

John Penman (Pic: Michael Gillen)
John Penman (Pic: Michael Gillen)

Cloybank Estate, Banknock, has visitor attractions including a fishery, air gun range, golf academy, pony trekking, animal area and cafe.

It also works with Falkirk Council to give employment training to young people aged 16-25.

Previously, development on the estate has been cross-funded by the sale of six plots of land.

Cloybank Estate (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

Now, owner John Penman wants permission to sell three more plots of land - and he told a meeting of Falkirk Council's planning committee that if this does not happen, the estate will have to close.

In a written statement, Mr Penman said: "The future of Cloybank and its staff are 100 per cent dependent on these plots being granted.

"The training we deliver for the council is still non-existent and could be for months.

"We are trying so hard to keep Cloybank from having to close - this would be disastrous for us and the local economy, but more so for the young people we have been working with for the last ten years.

"I don't know what we'd do if we had to close the gates - this would mean all the staff being made redundant and none of us would want that."

Mr Penman says being able to sell the plots will allow him to develop the estate further and create 20 more jobs.

But he wants the new planning permission to be granted with no conditions attached.

Planning officers, however, told councillors that they had been trying to get vital information about the project's finances since last October - months before the pandemic took hold.

They particularly want to know more about the previous sale of plots - as some of them had conditions attached which have not yet been met.

Officers want to see how the income from those sales has been used to develop the estate - and they want proof that the sale of another three plots of land is necessary to secure the development works.

Councillors agreed to continue the application to allow the information to be presented.

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