By Bill Heaney

The current status of the controversial Flamingoland application for planning permission for a £30 million housing and leisure development project at West Riverside and Woodbank House at Balloch on Loch Lomondside has just been revealed by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority.

The project is now in the planning assessment phase and even a cursory look at it indicates that it will cost far more than the £30 million price tag mentioned in connection with it.

However, this part of the planning process has been paused since August last year and they have been waiting to receive further information requested from the applicant to allow them to conclude their assessment.

Representations have continued to be received and recorded by the Park Authority.

They have announced that they have now received the additional information they asked for from the applicant.

And revealed that while considering the request for the additional information, the applicants have also amended elements of their original proposals.

The Authority has immediately pointed out: “This is not a new application. The application description has been updated, however the new information forms part of the original application.”

The main changes to the proposal are summarised below:

  • Convert and extend Woodbank House to form 15 residential flats;
  • Reduce the number of proposed houses within the grounds of Woodbank House from 20 to 6;
  • Increase the number of proposed lodges/bothies within the grounds of Woodbank House from 28 to 50;
  • Change the use of the proposed boathouse on the promontory at Drumkinnon from self-catering to storage/water based recreation;
  • Changes to the extent of development at the Pierhead.

The Authority say they are now in the process of re-consultation with the relevant statutory consultees and anyone who has already submitted a representation to the application has been informed.

All representations already received will continue to be considered as part of the planning assessment.

However, there’s now a further opportunity to comment on the proposal in light of this new information.

The planning application, including the new information, can be viewed on their e-planning portal, using reference 2018/0133/PPP.

The public have been asked to note that the recent plans/documents have been submitted over a number of weeks.

However, for ease of reference and to ensure it is clear to which documents relate to the amended proposal, they have dated all new plans/documents 5th April 2019.

And given assurances that all responses and comments will be taken into account in the consideration of the application.

“An application of this scale takes a significant amount of time to assess and determine and we are not currently in a position to advise of a determination date,” a Park Authority spokesperson said.

She added: “Once all the representations and information from the applicant has been fully considered, the planning case officer will make a recommendation to our Board members to either approve or refuse the application.

“The Authority’s Board or Planning and Access Committee (made up by members of our Board) will then make a decision on the application at a meeting in public. We will publicise the date of this meeting once it is confirmed.

“If you have submitted comments on the application, then you will be notified in advance of the meeting so that you can make arrangements to come along.

“At this time, you can request to speak at the meeting – provided you have formally commented on the application. Where there are a large number of speakers who are raising the same issues, it is at our discretion to ask one person to speak on behalf of a group rather than allowing each individual to address the Board Members individually.”

The application submitted is for Planning Permission in Principle. This means that the applicants are seeking agreement “in principle” that the proposed development is acceptable.

Full detailed drawings are not required with this type of application. However, the National Park can request additional information if it thinks it is necessary to determine the application.

The spokesperson added: “If the Planning Permission in Principle application is approved, the applicant will then have to submit further application(s) for detailed aspects of the proposal such as the siting and design of buildings.”

The current application includes the following: Holiday Lodge Accommodation; a hotel; Bunkhouse Accommodation; Housing; Leisure and Recreational Facilities, including swimming pool, water park, forest adventure rides and tree-top walkway; Education and Visitor Interpretation Facilities; Hot Food Café/Restaurant Use; Brewery; Transport Infrastructure (including mono-rail); New Footpaths and Cycleway.

It will also include:

  • Public Realm Enhancements
  • Site Development Infrastructure (including Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), car parking and access)
  • Conversion and extension of Woodbank House to flats and conversion of existing outbuildings to self-catering accommodation
  • Boathouse for storage/water based recreation.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted with the application. This includes an Environmental Statement (ES) and an ES addendum that compiles detailed information about the likely significant environmental effects of the development.

The public can view all of the application documents, including the Environmental Statement and ES addendum, on the e-planning portal using reference 2018/0133/PPP.

The non-technical summary of the EIA explains and presents the proposal in an easy to understand way.

People can also view hard copies of the application documents in the Park Authority’s head office on Carrochan Road, Balloch. You do not need to make an appointment.

The Park Authority spokesperson said that due to its scale, this planning application is classed as a ‘major development’.

Major developments follow a different planning process to smaller planning applications. You can find a step-by-step overview of this process in their ‘Major developments explained’ blog. This application is currently at Step 3 in the process.

Members of the public who wish to have their say on these proposals are welcome to make a comment on the application, either for or against the proposals.  The statutory deadline for making comments was 21st May 2019.

However, the consultation period will remain open, and public comments can continue to be submitted until the Planning Officer makes a recommendation on the proposal.

If you want your views to be taken into consideration during the decision-making process, it is important to make comments to the Park directly, stating your full name and address.

If you have made a representation prior to the submission of the new information from the applicant, your comments will still be considered however there’s now a further opportunity to comment on the proposal.

There are three ways to make comments:

  • Comment via their e-planning portal using the ‘Submit Comments’ tab
  • Email them on planning@lochlomond-trossachs.orgor
  • Write a letter and send it to the National Park Headquarters. Please include an e-mail address if you have one.

The spokesperson said: “Unless we hear from you to the contrary, all further communication will be electronic [e mail] as this will help us to reduce our environmental impact.”

She added: “The author of a representation is solely responsible for its content and accuracy. Please note that any libellous, defamatory, or offensive representations will not be taken into account when applications are being considered and will be discarded.

“Once your comments have been viewed by the Planning Officer they will then be published on our e-planning portal. Your comments will be published, along with your name and address, and will be available for inspection and to be copied by any interested party.

“We anticipate a high level of interest about the application and unfortunately it will be unlikely we will be able to respond individually in writing to specific questions during the consultation period but all comments will be taken into account as part of the decision making process.”

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