By Bill Heaney
Proposals to create a major industrial and commercial development in Bowling took another step forward this week as its full business case was approved by West Dunbartonshire Council.
The £44 million project could see the former ExxonMobil site transformed into a mixed-use development, with storage, distribution, industrial, business and office space.
But only if the money is there and councils have the cash to increase their share of the final bill, which will be £millions more than originally estimated – and only if if the costly project ever happens at all.
The project will also include a number of road improvements connecting to the site, including the addition of a 1.95km relief road through West Dunbartonshire.
The proposed site which West Dunbartonshire Council is backing with £millions of public money.
Of the 150 acre site, 47 acres is planned for development, with green network and green infrastructure enhancements including a waterfront pedestrian and cycle path being proposed.
In addition, a heritage area has been identified around listed structure Dunglass Castle.
The proposed development is part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal.
At a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council on Wednesday, elected members approved a Full Business Case for the site.
The business case outlined that the project is expected to provide up to 980 full time jobs as well as an additional 660 jobs during the construction stage.
It is expected to bring £43.8 million of additional private investment, and £520.8m net additional GVA by 2037.
Many would say these figures are fanciful.
The business case will now be presented to the Glasgow City Region Chief Executive Group and subsequently to Cabinet for approval in August.
Council Leader, Councillor Martin Rooney, left, said: “The agreement of this Full Business Case takes us a step closer to delivery of a hugely ambitious project which will benefit our area for years to come.
“This project is expected to deliver a huge amount of jobs in our area, and bring a return 26 times greater than our investment, which will be fantastic for West Dunbartonshire and the City Region as a whole.
“Residents will also see the benefits of a site which has been lying idle for years coming back into productive use, as well as the introduction of a much-needed relief road, providing an alternative route for traffic between Milton Junction and Dunglass Roundabout, and public access to greenspace areas at the site.”
Depute Council Leader, Councillor Michelle McGinty, added: “It was great to see continued cross-party support for this important project, which will be such a positive addition to the area.
“This will be one of the biggest infrastructure improvements in West Dunbartonshire’s history, and I look forward to seeing the project progress.”
Cllr McGinty was in charge along with retired Chief Education Officer Terry Lanagan, of the failed project to re-site Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School at Postie’s Park in Dumbarton.
The initial promises and projections connected with that publicly criticised were never fulfilled and the school is at the centre of a row over school transport for pupils.
If the Final Business Case for the Bowling project is approved by the Scottish cabinet, the plans will go to a future Council Planning Committee for consideration.
Approval is far from certain, and attempts by councils to co-operate in any joint projects have failed, such as the one between West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde having a jointly-run roads department.
The Glasgow City Region City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight Local Authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.
Meanwhile, West Dunbartonshire Council refuse to answer legitimate questions from The Democrat.