Plenty of houses but no community spirit

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A plan to build 168 new homes in Falkirk was given the green light despite concerns over the development’s potential to create a “gated community”.

Both the leader of Falkirk Council and the head of planning voiced their fears for the future at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday, saying the council was “getting it wrong” when it came to its approach to large housing developments.

Members agreed to grant planning permission for Persimmon Homes to build 130 houses – detached, semi-detached and terraced properties – and 38 flats, landscaping and associated infrastructure on the site of the former Transco Holder Station in Etna Road.

As a planning condition Persimmon must pay an education provision of £478,400 to offset the impact the development will have on Bainsford Primary School and local nurseries and £25,000 to extend a canal path near Abbots Road.

Planning convener David Alexander said: “We are very good at building houses – but houses don’t make communities. We have to look at our masterplanning. We got it wrong in New Carron Village and we’re getting it wrong here.

“I cannot go against this plan, but sustainable communities means more than just houses – it means things that bring people together and creating footpaths doesn’t do that.

“This is more an issue for the amended development plan. The developers in this case saw an opportunity and they were quite entitled to do this.”

Councillor Adanna McCue said the danger with developments like this was they were missing community spirit and often created gated communities where residents have little interaction with each other.

Both council leader Cecil Meiklejohn, who called the plan into the committee over concerns about its potential impact on the local services and amenities, and the developers were given the chance to address members.

Councillor Meiklejohn said: “I want to see development on this site, but with large housing developments like this there is a need to plan in community facilities. We want to have an area that creates a sense of belonging and a sense of place.

“I hope we can go forward as a council and take these things into account.”

Persimmon claimed it would ensure people and families with a wide range of incomes would be able to afford to live in the new development, adding it would create a new “sustainable” community and an “area of public space” where residents can spend time outdoors together.

It also stated Falkirk continues to be a “key location” for its business to deliver more homes in the future.