This month’s meeting of the West Lothian’s Development Management Committee (DMC) has agreed to allow an extra five years for the submission of planning applications for housing and shopping centres, as well as the new railway station for Winchburgh. The meeting heard there is still a “commitment” to build a railway station. The Core Development Area’s company, Winchburgh Developments Ltd (WDL) now has more time to put in detailed plans for the new town.
Bathgate Councillor the SNP’s Pauline Stafford, asked about the application for an extension to DMC.
She said: “Will it have any effect on the delivery of the railway station? Adding an extra five years does seem to make a difference.”
Planning officer Wendy McCorriston said that outline consent for the development at Winchburgh had been granted for 15 years in 2012. That deadline would come to an end in 2027 and the developers had asked for an extension.
Mrs McCorriston said: “It seems a long time but we are already 10 years on from the initial granting of permission. They feel they need five more years to 2032. Additional time for detailed planning applications for housing, the new town centre and also including the railway station.”
Concerns were expressed by the SNP earlier this year that the station may not be built because projected costs had doubled. The addition of an extra stop on the line might not sit well with ScotRail plans for a faster inter-city link between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland had stopped West Lothian Council from including a planning condition to build a station within a set timeframe such as a certain number of homes being built.
There’s widespread concern that without a new station there will be a knock on impact of traffic congestion in neighbouring communities including Bathgate and Linlithgow with new commuters from Winchburgh relying on railway stations in these towns. The council has stated that any transport plan for Winchburgh that does not contain a new station would be “ sub-optimal”.
Mrs McCorriston told the DMC that the proposed extension to allow developers more time to bring forward planning applications would have no direct impact on railway station delivery. She added that planning officers are already engaged with Network Rail, the developers and the Scottish Government.
“There is still that commitment and this application does not affect the commitment and the requirement to deliver that station,” she said.
Mrs McCorriston said the initial proposals for permission in principle was to deliver 3,450 homes, schools and the railway would all have come forward within the 15 years but there had been delays, including those caused by the pandemic and two years of lockdown.
A report before the DMC added: “WDL has also reiterated their commitment to the provision of a new railway station and is ready to invest private sector funds to ensure a way forward.”