Make or break plan to secure Falkirk’s future

06-05-2018. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. The Helix Park and The Kelpies. Cycling Scotland Wee Jaunt Falkirk cycle, part of Pedal for Scotland which is on 9th September this year.
06-05-2018. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. The Helix Park and The Kelpies. Cycling Scotland Wee Jaunt Falkirk cycle, part of Pedal for Scotland which is on 9th September this year.

The community will get its say on a blueprint for the future which has a vision to transform Falkirk into a “dynamic and distinctive” place to live, work and visit.

Last week Falkirk Council agreed on an amended Local Development Plan 2 (LDP2) – the successor to the first Local Development Plan adopted in 2015 – which sets out both the broad vision and strategy for the area from 2020 to 2040 and site specific policies and proposals which will guide the council’s approach to developments and initiatives for the next decade.

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “We want to change the nature of Falkirk, to improve the provision for tourism. We are a growing centre for tourism and there are major opportunities out there for partnerships – with hotels for instance, locating to Falkirk.”

Following last Monday’s meeting the amended LDP2 will now be re-published for further consultation before being submitted to Scottish Ministers. The council will then make final modifications in accordance with Reporters’ recommendations and adopt the plan – hopefully by 2020.

The council leader added: “There are huge opportunities for businesses and the local community so the quicker we can move to get this LDP2 through the remaining stages, the better.”

According to the report, the LDP2 sees Falkirk as a “network of thriving communities set within high quality greenspaces, and a vibrant growing economy which is of strategic significance within the national context – providing an attractive, inclusive, sustainable place.”

Enhancing the area is at the heart of the LDP2’s Spatial Strategy, which sets a housing supply target of 4800 houses for the area over the initial ten-year period of the plan.

This figure is a lower target than currently identified in LDP1 and reflects the anticipated reduction in the rate of household and population growth in the area over the LDP2 period.

At last Monday’s meeting members agreed 450 houses will be built annually across the district with 9000 homes in total expected to be built between 2020 and 2040.

No new housing sites are proposed in Bonnybridge and Banknock, with a site identified for housing at East Bonnybridge in LDP1 now proposed for removal owing to “physical constraints” which are likely to render it ineffective.

Further allocation for care housing is proposed in Maddiston and a mixed use site at Maddiston Fire Station has also been identified.

Current major proposals for a new settlement at Whitecross will be scaled down in the light of infrastructure and delivery issues with more modest housing growth of up to 200 homes proposed adjacent to the village, while the Manuel Works site would be allocated for business and industrial development.

In Slamannan the current large scale housing proposal at Hillend Farm would also be scaled down to reflect a more realistic view of market conditions in the village.

No new housing sites are proposed in Denny and any growth in the area will need to be supported by new transport infrastructure – notably Denny Eastern Access Road (DEAR), and school capacity enhancements.

In Larbert and Stenhousemuir, housing at Kinnaird Village will continue to grow through the existing allocation of Hill of Kinnaird, while Hill of Kinnaird, previously identified for a business park, is allocated for mixed use development, providing 70 new homes.

A possible new site identified at Skinflats has not been taken forward due to potential future flood risk issues, but this has not stopped consideration of the coastal habitats in the Bothkennar/Skinflats area being considered as a site for bird viewing visitor facilities.

In Airth, Castle View will provide 132 homes, while sites at Airth Castle will see 15 new homes and The Glebe, to the north, will get 30 new homes.

In Torwood, two small sites will be developed at the former Torwood School for 15 new homes and 10 new homes will be built in McLaren Park.

Strategic infrastructure identified for delivery during the LDP2 period includes improvements to road and rail networks, local transport network upgrading, waste water treatment works upgrades, enhancement of education and community facilities, and cemetery extensions.

For years the long-awaited development at Gilston Farm in Polmont has been stuck in planning limbo and at last Monday’s meeting of the full council the current proposals for a mixed use development at the site and 500 houses were knocked back as members voted to amend the plan in the LDP2 so it only retained the business side and removed all the housing elements.

Councillor Malcolm Nicol said: “More housing would put pressure on local schools and the health services in the area.”

Earlier this year Hansteen Land Limited sought planning permission in principle for 500 homes, a hotel and hostels, restaurant, food retail outlets and office/lightindustry space.

But critics of the original proposal stated the local infrastructure would be unable to cope with the population growth the 500 houses would create.

FALKIRK

The new Local Development Plan ensures Falkirk town centre remains an important focus for regeneration.

Having lost the jewel in its crown, Marks & Spencer, in August, Falkirk town centre will be a priority for investment and enhancement in line with the Scottish Government’s “town centre first” principle.

The strategy will be to diversify its function, improve movement and accessibility, get more people living and working in the centre, and progress key regeneration opportunities at Grahamston to offer potential to improve an important gateway into the town by rail.

The LDP2’s broad strategy for Falkirk town centre is to increase activity, continue to raise its quality as a place, and improve accessibility. While retail will remain a vital function, investment is needed in new business, leisure, residential and cultural activities which will diversify its function and will bring more people into the town centre to live, work and visit.

The Municipal Buildings site also presents an opportunity for redevelopment, depending on the future decisions regarding the Council HQ and arts centre.

The LDP2 will also see Falkirk’s substantial existing housing land supply augmented by a new greenfield housing proposal at Woodend Farm, Hallglen, and by a housing component to the Falkirk Gateway site, which has less emphasis on large scale household retail and more focus on a mix of uses to help create a vibrant and diverse new urban quarter, complementing the Helix and the new Forth Valley College campus.

The final phase of North Falkirk Strategic Growth Area will see some 200 houses developed at Cauldhame Farm and new housing at the Falkirk Gateway, including redevelopment of the old college site, will form a further Strategic Growth Area, which could accommodate some 300 new homes, while the redevelopment of the former Falkirk Royal infirmary site, and other smaller brownfield opportunities, will add to housing choice in the town.

GRANGEMOUTH

Exciting plans for the future in Grangemouth focus on industry and the contribution its expansion can make to the local community.

While the LDP2 has measures in place to continue to support future regeneration opportunities in Grangemouth town centre and enhancement proposals for Zetland Park, there may also be opportunities for district heating to be developed in and around the town by utilising excess industrial heat.

The Grangemouth Investment Zone includes Grangemouth Docks, Earlsgate Park and Ineos, where a clearance programme has identified in the region of 100 hectares of land suitable for redevelopment.

Land to the north and south of Bo’ness Road is likely to be developed within the chemical sciences sector, while land to the north of Wholeflats Road has the potential to deliver a broader range of business and industry uses.

A new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant is proposed to replace the existing plant and sites and business locating at Ineos will be able to access onsite utilities including steam, heat and electricity, while excess heat may be able to contribute to a wider heat energy network.

Ineos has produced a masterplan for the site which will form the basis for further development and its proposals will address the cumulative impact of redevelopment on the local community, looking at air pollution, noise and the road network.

Improvement to the M9 Junction 5 has already been progressed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and the LDP2 states there will be a requirement for local road network improvements to Inchyra Road/Wholeflats Road from Junction 5 of the M9 to address transport impacts of the Ineos proposals.