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Mixed-use Linlithgow masterplan submitted

February 7 2012

Mixed-use Linlithgow masterplan submitted
Plans to erect a £90m mixed-use development at Burghmuir, Linlithgow have been submitted by Wallace Land.

The scheme entails construction of up to 600 homes, a quarter of which would be affordable, with a hotel, care home community facilities also being built.

Key to delivery of the project will be new sliproads onto the M9 which are predicted to open up further development opportunities to the north, as well as reduce town centre congestion.

Occupying 48ha of greenfield land the development is being sold as beneficial to the wider town through retention of more retailing spend locally in a new supermarket and improvements to the town centre via developer contributions.

Jason Wallace of Wallace Land said: “We have undertaken considerable community engagement on this project and have already made significant adjustments to our proposals based on the outcomes from this. The development is a win-win for Linlithgow and we would like to thank the community for their considerable input to this process and look forward to continuing the dialogue with them.”


#1 Posted by Abal on 7 Feb 2012 at 13:37 PM
The area as a whole can be considered as mixed, but within the area every programme will be segegrated from each other and not form a strong urban identity with an intersting mix of functions. Unfortunately, this is almost everywhere the case at new developments in Scotland and the rest of the UK. In my opinion, all british urbanism is far behind the average level of Europe.
#2 Posted by Suburbosaurus on 7 Feb 2012 at 13:57 PM
1990s dinosaur-suburbanist pastiche!!
A "win-win for Linlithgow"!!
Placemaking? - I know what Jim Royale would say....
#3 Posted by PM on 7 Feb 2012 at 14:53 PM
I spy a straggler landlocked in the middle of the site - What's going on there?
#4 Posted by Boab on 7 Feb 2012 at 15:28 PM
Someone send a copy of "Designing Streets" addressed to West Lothian Council...
I Paton
#5 Posted by I Paton on 7 Feb 2012 at 16:44 PM
I'm a town planner unfortunate enough to live a stone’s throw from this proposal. It is a fig-leaf for an out of centre superstore and a first phase of housing, despite a retail study saying there is no retail capacity. It is contrary to the development plan, contrary to national planning policy on retailing and town centres, and would have a massive visual impact on the eastern approach to Linlithgow and the setting of the historic Palace. The general area does have some housing and employment land, but on a south-sloping valley and in a campus style development, all very well screened and unobtrusive. The retail element will have an unacceptable adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre, which still has a relatively good offer despite the woeful trend of town centres in Scotland. Two (maybe three) independent bookstores, two independent butchers and a number of clothing shops will be at risk of closure, same for the town centre supermarket.

The overriding reason presented for the development is the need for west-facing slip roads. If there is a need, it should be funded by Transport Scotland. The need is arguably diluted as the area is no longer earmarked for a Park and Ride facility. The wider transport claims do not stack up, as any loss of traffic to the west through the town centre will be offset by traffic from the west through the town centre to the superstore. Traffic management on the A803 will be a nightmare… hundreds of car trips will be generated by the development and children will be expected to cross the A803 to the primary school, requiring some form of pedestrianised crossing just a few hundred yards from a motorway junction. The funding of any slip roads from this development will be contrary to the policy tests of Circular 1/2010 and should instead be directed at consequential impacts ie. schooling.

There will be a major impact on schooling. The applicant claimed (at a community council meeting) that the local primary school needed additional families to sustain it because of falling school rolls, which is a direct contradiction of what the staff have said to us parents… the local primary school is bursting with an overspill P1/P2 class. The issue of education provision is a major one in this part of West Lothian.

An additional reason put forward for the housing element of the development is the aging population of Linlithgow. The town is aging… but at a markedly slower rate than the Scottish average as a brief analysis easily demonstrates. So I’m not sure how much weight should be placed on this claim, and it is really a matter for the Development Plan to direct development in accordance with such considerations. The application is premature as the site will be under consideration in the Local Development Plan (it has been submitted in response to the call for sites) and I suspect the timing of the application is to pre-empt the local plan process…the MIR stage is likely to commence within weeks.

There is employment land next door to the site, with vacant premises plus additional sites. These are undeveloped for a number of reasons, partly due to site access (which can be mitigated) but also because the focus for employment land is the M8 corridor. This is reflected in SESPlan which does not consider Linlithgow a strategic employment location. I think the campus development is high-quality and would suit further development with complementary R&D or IT type uses, but not what has been put forward in this case.

Finally, this is a speculative application by a land developer with no named operators or housebuilders. I believe that only the out-of-centre superstore and Phase 1 of the housing allocation are deliverable. The hotel – if delivered – may well end up a budget hotel with little scope for connectivity to Linlithgow town centre, remote from market demand in west Edinburgh. The applicant claimed, at a community council meeting, that they would seek a high-end operator for the hotel when – in reality – the planning system has no such control.

At the moment, the site is being ploughed for Spring planting. Why is there a need for development here other than to profit the developers? There is no convincing answer that balances the range of adverse impacts on the town and residents.
#6 Posted by Ohmy on 7 Feb 2012 at 18:57 PM
I completely agree with you arguments I Pation. My question is how can the municipality allow this? I am not British, but cannot believe that local planners allow this kind of developments. Is there a large lack of good planners in UK or is it juridical very difficult to prevent these kind of developments?
#7 Posted by Ohmy on 7 Feb 2012 at 19:01 PM
And if they really need to build large retail it can be much better integrated with the context similar as many high streets in Scotland. Further, I see a very large roof above the foodstore with a gigantic parking place next to it. Why they did not combined the empty roof with a parking spaces? This is just one example of very ineffective used space at this masterplan.
I Paton
#8 Posted by I Paton on 8 Feb 2012 at 08:26 AM
I doubt it will be allowed! The representation period starts shortly, once it is advertised by the planning authority. The default position is that it is contrary to the Development Plan and should not be permitted unless there are significant material considerations to justify it. The risk in the current climate is that "any development is good" may prevail among councillors.
#9 Posted by Neil on 8 Feb 2012 at 09:36 AM
Hope for I Paton's sake this gets knocked back. Seriously below-par and un-needed. One only needs look at Dunfermline to see how this kind of development affects a place.
#10 Posted by Abal on 8 Feb 2012 at 10:08 AM
I hope it will not be allowed. I Paton, maybe you can start an initiative with your neighbourhood against these plans, based on this comprehensive discription.
cathy stafford
#11 Posted by cathy stafford on 8 Feb 2012 at 12:43 PM
It is not quite "any development is good" but attaching the term 'Mixed Use' seems a good way of developing large green field sites. T

Please feel free to visit blog
Baron Hill
#12 Posted by Baron Hill on 8 Feb 2012 at 13:51 PM
I agree with most of what I Paton has said, plus I would add that the application is premature pending production of a proper plan for the future of Linlithgow devised to maximise community benefits. In response to 'Abal', I can reveal that the main local environmental groups - Linlithgow Civic Trust, Transition Linlithgow and Linlithgow Against Supermarket Development - are working together to leaflet all homes in Linlithgow, urging residents to object to this proposal.
#13 Posted by Abal on 8 Feb 2012 at 17:09 PM
nice to hear Baron!!

I also agree with Cathy. The term mixed use is often used in a way it can be compared with 'sustainable', but when you look at the local scale of the plan you will never have mixed areas, but only segregated areas. This would not lead to any social economical and environmental advantages in comparison with a strong mix across the whole neighbourhood. Even though these advantages what a mixed area could have, the whole idea of mixed use at this specific area is very selfish and only based on profit potential for the developing party without a critical look at the city as a whole.
#14 Posted by ZY on 10 Feb 2012 at 11:35 AM
Fundamentally a 1970's/1980's development mentality from the core. Architects must live on another planet. Geez... Not one ounce of consideration for the environment or for fitting in with major neighbouring developments taking place at Whitecross and Winchburgh, and if developments like these continue to be promoted then we don't stand a chance of creating a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. Unsustainable trash. Only fit for being filed under B for Bin.
#15 Posted by dirige on 10 Feb 2012 at 12:03 PM
ZY you are only perpetuating the myth that architects are behind such developer-led schemes. We take all the flak other people's bad ideas, while they laugh all the way to the bank.
#16 Posted by ZY on 10 Feb 2012 at 12:22 PM
Yes. sorry. not getting a dig at architects specifically perhaps I should have said the word developer.

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