By Lucy Ashton
Work on Flamingo Land’s new £40m Loch Lomond resort is expected to start in 2023, the company has announced, according to a report today in The Lochside Press community news site.
The developers say they have taken on board comments made during last month’s consultation into their plans for Balloch.
Plans for the Lomond Banks resort were withdrawn in 2019 after more than 60,000 objections, with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park officials recommending it should be refused.
But the company is pressing ahead with revised proposals, which it says will create Scotland’s first whole life zero carbon resort.
Some of the previous scheme’s opponents are unconvinced however – Green MSP Ross Greer, pictured right, said: “Flamingo Land have certainly upped their PR game from their disastrous first attempt, but badging their plans as ‘sustainable’ will not pull the wool over the community’s eyes
“Thanks to the Greens, Scotland’s approach to planning is changing to give greater protections for places like Loch Lomond.
“The interests of communities and the local environment will no longer be a poor second place to those of companies seeking to profit from our world-famous natural landscapes.”
Flamingo World says a new application for planning permission in principle will be submitted between February and June next year, with construction starting in 2023 and the first phase of the development opening in 2024.
It says that key themes raised by the public during last month’s consultation include:
- The current lack of facilities for tourists in Balloch
- Ecology and trees
- Public access
- Roads and transport
- Lack of employment and training opportunities
- Specific sections of the development – a station square, the pierhead and the riverbank
- Grade A-listed Woodbank House and its boathouse
An update published last week address these issues:
Sustainability: The total carbon from the construction and operation of Lomond Banks would achieve a net zero impact on the climate during its lifetime. The resort would be part of a research and development project focused on ‘zero carbon neighbourhoods’ in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and architects Anderson, Bell + Christie.
Tourism facilities in Balloch: There would be new public toilets, seating areas and rubbish bins. The update states: “Flamingo Land has decades of experience running tourism destinations so will be able to support the local area with ‘boots on the ground’ support to assist with parking and traffic coming into the area, rubbish collection, litter picking and providing facilities to accommodate the needs of the visitors to the area.”
Ecology and trees: Surveys are said to be ongoing, with plans for new tree-planting in some areas and invasive non-native species targeted for control and removal. Bluebells are ‘prioritised for retention’.
Public access will remain across the site, the developers say, with existing paths still available and new ones created.
Roads and transport: The developers say a transport assessment is being prepared which will look at junctions in Balloch including the A82/A811. There would be a monorail link to Balloch station and: “Guests arriving by car will have little need for their cars following arrival. Lomond Banks will be an environment where the car is parked up once and visitors can explore the national park and wider area by boat, bus, bike (including electric bikes), foot and train.”
Employment and training: The company says Lomond Banks would be a Scottish Real Living Wage employer, adding: ” Flamingo Land has a rich heritage in training staff and education to ensure that its staff are given the tools to be the best in the industry.”
Station Square, pictured above, is described as ‘a lively arrival point which connects Lomond Banks to the heart of Balloch’, and the developers say it has ‘required relatively little design input since the October public exhibition’.
Pierhead: There would be a hotel and leisure centre here and the developers say the buildings would be considerably lower than in the previous application: “We have taken great strides to reduce the height of the buildings at the pierhead and align the aesthetics and materials with other buildings around the loch. These plans have continued to develop since the last round of consultations and form a large element of our revised proposals.
Woodbank: There would be lodges and bothies in parts of this area which would be cleared because of invasive non-native species, and Flamingo Land states: “We are committed to the conservation and redevelopment of the grade A-listed Woodbank House, restoring the house and ancillary derelict buildings into high quality self-catered holiday apartments.”
Top picture: Flamingo Land’s millionaire boss Gordon Gibb.