PLANNING: FLAMINGO LAND PRESS AHEAD WITH THEIR PLANS FOR LOCH LOMONDSIDE

Gordon Gibb, CEO of Flamingo Land; Artist’s impression of plans for Balloch Square; Flamingo Land plans for Lomond Shores at Drumkinnon Bay and a poster for a public meeting.

By Bill Heaney

Flamingo Land, the Yorkshire leisure group caught up in a battle with the community over planning permission for a development in Balloch at Lomond Shores have re-submitted plans which opponents claim are “basically the same with some tinkering round the edges”.
Environmental campaigner Alannah Maurer, of the Save Loch Lomond group, issued a statement today (June 3).
It said: “Flamingo Land disappoint again as they return with basically the same plans with some tinkering around the edges.
“They have fundamentally failed to address the concerns and objections that were raised against their proposed development.”
Ms Maurer said the main points that need addressed are as follows:
Scottish Enterprise’s high handed determination to dispose of public land at a fraction of its true worth and, through the continuation of the exclusivity agreement with Flamingo Land, to prevent feasible and possibly better proposals to be brought forward for the site.
These proposals exist and provide better possibilities for higher wages, training and economic benefits that would stay in the area. The local people are being denied choice and having one of their assets sold from under them.
This site is one of the last freely accessible points on the loch for the public at the southern end of Loch Lomond, if all proposals get the go-ahead.
Nick Kempe of Parkswatch Scotland and Rory MacLeod of Save Loch Lomond at a meeting in Balloch to protest against Flaming Land’s plans.Picture by Bill Heaney
Scotland is the custodian of a natural and environmental jewel for the rest of the world with Loch Lomond, and this site is a gateway.
It is a world class destination and deserves a world-class welcoming point, and the Flamingo Land proposal is far from world-class and lacks imagination.
There needs to be a better proposal to allow appropriate, sympathetic and empathetic development for the site while preserving the natural, environmental and heritage amenity of the site.
Flamingo Land’s proposals go nowhere near that and, indeed, would see a destruction of much of that amenity.
West Dunbartonshire Council and its leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl,  refuse to comment to The Democrat whose editor was two years ago thrown out of a meeting for asking the Provost if the sound could be turned up in order that the press and public who are legally allowed to attend could hear what was being said.
Meanwhile, however, the STV News is reporting that the Scottish Greens have vowed to “send Flamingo Land packing” after the theme park operator unveiled new proposals to develop at Loch Lomond.Plans by the company to build a tourist resort on the loch shores were scrapped in 2019 after objections by local residents, campaigners and West Dunbartonshire Council.

Officials at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park also made a recommendation to reject the plan, which would have included a hotel, brewery, boat house, leisure centre and budget accommodation.

However, the company has now brought forward amended plans for the site, whilst pledging consultation with the local community.

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer, pictured right, who led the campaign against the plans two years ago, said that the company is “determined to ignore both the local community and national public opinion”.

He said: “Flamingo Land’s first proposal was unwelcome, deeply inappropriate for Loch Lomond and, as their own impact assessments acknowledged it would have caused substantial environmental damage whilst creating just a fraction of the jobs they had originally promised.

“From what they’ve announced so far, it seems their second attempt is just a rehash of the first. Flamingo Land have made clear that they are determined to ignore both the local community and national public opinion in their desperation to pave over one of Scotland’s most iconic natural beauty spots.

“The 60,000 people who fought to stop this cynical development last time haven’t gone away. We sent Flamingo Land packing once before and I’m confident that we’ll do the same again.”

Jim Paterson, development director for the Lomond Banks [alternative name for Flamingo Land] project, said: “We have listened to the issues raised around the original proposal and with further feedback will look to make some important, very significant, amendments to the plans to ensure Lomond Banks will be in keeping with its environment.

“We also want to reassure the local community that consultation is at the heart of our plans. Our intention here from the outset was never to build a theme park but to bring to the area a development that has the potential to become a world-class tourism destination that benefits the local community and economy.

“Our environmental and commercial commitment to Balloch and West Riverside remains strong and our proposed development comes at a time when economic investment and meaningful growth in the local tourism market is required.

“We want to complement what makes Loch Lomond so attractive to visitors, and our aim would be to invest locally, hire locally, and work with local businesses to maximise the benefits of the development for all.”

Adam Bell, of architects, Anderson, Bell + Christie, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the project to regenerate this allocated site in Balloch.

“We have listened to the public and the statutory bodies and will look to reflect these specific changes to the development, together with any new proposals that arise through the public consultation processes.

“Lomond Banks offers a real opportunity to bring jobs and visitors to this key location in the Vale of Leven and Loch Lomond, at the same time protecting the woodland and special environment for all to enjoy.”

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