CALA Management and Stewart Milne Holdings Ltd first submitted an application to redevelop the area of land between Milngavie and Bearsden to East Dunbartonshire Council in November 2004. Their application was refused in November 2007, and the developers consequently submitted their appeal a month later. Following a Local Inquiry by Scottish Government Reporter Janet McNair in August – December 2008, an Appeal Notice of Intention was issued in April 2009, in which the Reporter stated that she was “minded to allow” the appeal, provided a list of 20 proposed conditions are met by CALA and Stewart Milne Holdings.
The proposed development occupies the space between the A81(Milngavie Road) and the railway all the way from Hillfoot to Auchenhowie Road in Milngavie, taking in the present West of Scotland Football club grounds.
What was included in the original planning application?
According to the original proposals, the land would be developed for varying uses, including a rail halt beside the Allander Sports Centre, a park and ride associated with the halt (or alternatively for bus park and ride – both uses would develop the area including the former Burnbrae Bus Garage), retention and potential reconfiguration of the West of Scotland Football Club grounds, retail warehouses on or adjacent to Homebase/Halley’s Garage, 550 houses, a footpath, cycleway and road access improvements, and reinstatement of a landscaped green wedge between Milngavie and Bearsden along each side of the Craigdhu Burn. Flood protection mechanisms put in place around the Craigdu and Manse burns in an attempt to encourage greater biodiversity.
Why did the planning board reject the application?
In October 2007, East Dunbartonshire Council’s planning board rejected the developers’ planning application after councillors voted 15-5 against the proposals. It was rejected because the proposals did not accord with the Local Plan – the Council’s long term plan for the development of East Dunbartonshire.
The original Local Plan requires that the Kilmardinny site be developed according to a “Masterplan”, which would “describe and map an overall development concept, including present and future land use, urban design and landscaping, built form, infrastructure, circulation and service provision. It is based upon an understanding of place and it is intended to provide a structured approach to creating a clear and consistent framework for development” (www.kwag.info).
Liberal Democrat and SNP councillors were unanimously against the proposal, while the Tory and Labour groups were split.
For more information on how councillors voted, see the following news story:
Why didn’t the application fit with the Local Plan?
The original Local Plan sanctioned limited release of greenbelt land at Kilmardinny, in order to best balance the social benefits from development with potential damage to the environment. The proposed development would require much more greenbelt land and was considered to be potentially detrimental to the Kilmardinny environment.
What happened after the developers appealed?
When CALA Management and Stewart Milne Holdings appealed against the planning board’s decision, the case was assigned to the Scottish Government Reporter Janet McNair, who launched a public inquiry.
On 6th April 2009, the Reporter issued a ‘Notice of Intention’ indicating that she was “minded to allow” the application, subject to 20 conditions.
What did the Reporter’s Notice of Intention say?
The Notice states that the Reporter is ‘minded to allow’ the development to go ahead according to the following conditions, should the council and the developers fail to come to a legal agreement by 2nd October 2009:
- At least a 10% proportion of the 550 homes built on the site should be “affordable”.
- A park-and-ride facility providing space 150 cars, together with disabled car parking provision
- The ‘phasing’ of development, designed to minimise the period between the closure of the existing Allander Sports Centre and the opening of the replacement centre
To mitigate the traffic impacts of the development:
- The introduction of urban traffic control technology at the junction of Glasgow Road and Auchenhowie Road
- The replacement of the Canniesburn Toll roundabout with traffic signal control
- Improvements at the Milngavie Road/Boclair Road junction
- A new roundabout at the southern access to the site and a priority junction to the south
- The upgrading of pedestrian facilities on Glasgow Road
- Pedestrian and cyclist crossing facilities on Milngavie Road
- Residential car parking and traffic calming proposals within the site
Regarding the environment:
- A ‘habitat management plan’ for the habitats to be retained on the site
- A series of recommendations including comprehensive surveys, land drainage systems and culvert monitoring plans were also given regarding flood risks.
Crucially, the rail halt, associated park-and-ride facility and new retail space are not included in the Notice of Intention. The new conditions, if agreed to by the Council and the developers, would see the closure of the Allander Leisure Centre and £10million funding for a new Centre to be developed on adjacent land. Furthermore, the Local Plan only sanctions the release of enough greenbelt land for 330 homes, but the Reporter states she is ‘minded’ to allow the development of 550 homes.
What was the local response to the Reporter’s Notice of Intention?
Jo’s responses to the Notice of Intention:
Reactions from the local press to the Notice of Intention:
Why are people opposing the development?
The new proposals have been met with fierce opposition from the public, council representatives and community groups such as the Kilmardinny Westpark Action Group (www.kwag.info) for a number of reasons, including:
- The developers have indicated that it would be possible to keep the existing Allander open while the new one is built. However, it would be located in the middle of a building site, and to maintain access could be disruptive to the building work and would add to overall costs, due to the associated Health and Safety risks. The associated costs and resulting increased timescale could limit the funding the developers could offer the Council when purchasing the centre.
- Local clubs who use the facility would potentially have to be abandoned as they would have no location to train or compete.
Parking and traffic congestion
- Concern that the 550 new households accommodating space for vehicles would provide an unsustainable amount of additional traffic congestion and environmental damage.
- Increased traffic congestion causes concerns about access to the Accident and Emergency department at the Southern General Hospital.
- Network Rail raised concerns about the lack of parking facilities at stations which may not cope with the additional volume of service users: without a rail halt and associated car parking facilities, there would not be enough parking to accommodate commuters.
- The development could result in loss of green space, and the visual impact of the development as a whole could be damaging.
- Housing would be built on a recognised floodplain and risks would be imposed from both Craigdhu and Manse burns. Compensatory storage measures would be required to combat these problems, adding to overall costs.
How did the Council come to approve the development?
The Council and the developers spent several months in negotiations after the the Reporter’s Notice of Intention was issued in April 2009. She had made clear that if the Council and the developers were unable to reach an agreement, she would make a decision on their behalf, which would like be to support the development, subject to the conditions given in the Notice of Intention.
The Reporter wrote to the Council and the developers on 4th December 2009 to say that she was disappointed that an agreement had not yet been reached between them. She noted that after several months of negotiations, the only difference between the parties was over how much money the developers should contribute toward building a new sports centre to replace Allander Leisure.
After the Council and the developers responded to say they believed they could reach a settlement soon, the Reporter granted them an extension to continue negotiations to reach that agreement. If the Council did not accept the deal that was on the table by 5th February, the Reporter said she “explore the possibility” of imposing an agreement based on the conditions she laid out in her Notice of Intention (see below).
I criticised the Reporter for applying pressure to reach a deal which was not in the community’s best interests. Read my comments here:
The Council met on the evening of Thursday 4th February 2010, when it was faced with choosing between accepting the deal which the Reporter and the developers want, or allowing the Reporter to impose a decision. In the event, despite previously speaking out against the unfavourable deal which was on the table, all of the Labour and Tory Councillors voted to approve the deal. You can read my reaction here:
The decision caused outrage in Milngavie and Bearsden:
I am concerned that no notice was given to local people that this meeting was taking place – it was held completely in secret, and the Council does not appear to have followed its own rules on how meetings should be publicised. Read more about it here:
I have since written to East Dunbartonshire Council to find out why the rules do not appear to have been followed. You can read that letter here:
Is Allander Leisure going to be demolished?
The suggestion that Allander Leisure would be demolished has been one of the most contentious aspects of the application. I have lobbied East Dunbartonshire Council to ensure the community is not left without a sports centre: if a new centre is to be built it must be ready before the existing facilities close. As the owner of the land on which Allander Leisure is built, the Council has the power to refuse to sell the land.
For more information on my action, see the following news stories:
Since then, the Council has pledged not to allow Allander Leisure to be closed until the new facility has been opened.
Councillor Simon Hutchison issued a statement in May saying: “I want to give an assurance now that there are no plans to close the Allander Leisure centre, leaving its customers with no facilities.”
Then, in October, the Council passed a motion guaranteeing that the Allander will be kept open until new facilities have been opened.
For more information on the plans for Allander Leisure, please see the following news stories:
Will West of Scotland FC get new grounds?
Possibly. It was announced in September 2009 that the Club has received planning permission to build new facilities next to Murray Park on Auchenhowie Road.
For news articles related to this news please see below:
What happens next?
I will update this page when more information is available on the next steps.
How can I make my views heard?
I will remain involved throughout the process, and will continue to make representations on behalf of constituents on this issue. To get in touch with me, please email email@example.com or write to: Jo Swinson MP, 4 Springfield House, Emerson Road, Bishopbriggs, G64 1QE.
You can also add your name to the Kilmardinny Westpark petition against the development, accessible at: http://www.kwag.info/petition.html, or for further information, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
All the paperwork and plans are public documents which you can view between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday at: East Dunbartonshire Council, Planning Development and Property Assets, The Triangle, Kirkintilloch Road, Bishopbriggs, Glasgow G64 2TR.