Shieldhill residents fight back against housing development

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Community council members and residents are lodging a petition against plans to build 91 houses on land they claim is not suitable for such a large development.

The fact Persimmon Homes’ plans to erect the housing on land to the south west of Tappernail Farm, in Reddingmuirhead, are proposed to be included in Falkirk Council’s new Local Development Plan 2 – which is out to public consultation until Friday, November 23 – led Shieldhill and California Community Council to raise a petition against the development itself and its inclusion in the plan.

Maria Montinaro, of Shieldhill and California Community Council, said: “The Shieldhill community wish to keep its village identity in a countryside setting and believe the infrastructure is insufficient to support further house building in the area.

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“The petition is also supporting a request to Persimmon Homes Board of Directors to withdraw their application and walk away from the site.”

The objectors offered up an alternative use for the land – exploring the potential for the community’s Right to Buy in order to create a community woodland or rural park on the site.

Mrs Montinaro said: “This sustainable alternative has previously been supported by Falkirk Council, Central Scotland Countryside Trust and the Scottish Land Fund.”

The plans to build 91 houses were given the go ahead at a special meeting of Falkirk Council’s planning committee meeting back in March, despite the objections of two community councils and the convener of the planning committee.

Persimmon Home’s development was also contrary to the council’s current local development plan, but that did not stop planning officers recommending permission be granted and planning committee members voting it through by six votes to five.

At that March meeting planning convener David Alexander agreed with Councillor Adanna McCue’s amendment to refuse the application on the grounds of overdevelopment and the fact it exceeds the housing capacity of 30 units.

However, the majority of the committee agreed with Councillor John McLuckie’s motion to grant permission and to also remove a transportation contribution, which would have seen Persimmon Homes pay £110,000 a year – for three years – towards enhanced bus service provision.

The developer was still earmarked to pay £254,800 towards Braes High School and nursery provision.

At the time Mrs Montinaro called the committee’s decision not to allow a chance for community council’s objecting against the plans to speak at the meeting “unjust and unfair”.

She added the council’s claim it does not have a five-year effective housing land supply and has a shortfall of 760 units – one of the main reasons officers were in favour of the Persimmon development, which will provide 23 affordable housing units – was not true.

According to Ms Montinaro, the council’s potential net surplus in housing land supply – gained from developments like Whitecross and Gilston – is actually 1548, which minus the 760 units shortfall, actually leaves a potential surplus of 788 housing units.

Getting ready to fight a legal challenge against the decision, the village has so far raised £3240 from donations, including £100 from nearby Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council.

Falkirk Council stated this week its new local development plan was still out to consultation and, as such, its contents had not yet been finalised.

A council spokesperson said: “Local people have until 23 November to put forward their representations to the proposed Local Development Plan 2 at www.falkirk.gov.uk.

“All representations will be summarised in a report on the consultation and considered carefully before the final plan is presented to full council next year.”

According to Shieldhill and California Community Council, 643 representations have already been submitted objecting to the inclusion of the Tappernail housing development in the existing Local Development Plan.