Dairy firm ‘pressurised council’ over housing plan

Graham's the Family Dairies have been accused of 'pressurising' Stirling Council over proposals to build homes on green belt land. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Graham's the Family Dairies have been accused of 'pressurising' Stirling Council over proposals to build homes on green belt land. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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CAMPAIGNERS have criticised Scotland’s leading dairy firm for saying the creation of 450 jobs was dependent on being granted permission to build houses on controversial green belt land.

Graham’s the Family Dairy and housing developer Mactaggart and Mickel Homes have submitted a joint planning application to Stirling Council to build 600 houses at Airthrey Green between Bridge of Allan and Causewayhead with a new purpose-built £20 million dairy facility at Stirling as part of the package.

If the development - which includes other features such as a primary school, a public park and retail and leisure centre - fails to get the go-ahead, the firm said the jobs would go to their operations throughout Scotland. They said this was due to the scale of the investment required which would need external finance.

The Scottish Government previously rejected development on the site as part of the Local Development Plan.

Duncan MacDougall, lead campaigner with SaveBofA (Save Bridge of Allan), said the firm was attempting to pressurise the council.

“Graham’s Family Dairy in their briefing notes issued to accompany their planning application use moral pressure of a potential threat to jobs in the Stirling area in an obvious attempt to pressurise the council into granting planning permission.

“There seems to be no other explanation for including a two paragraph mention of a proposed factory, that may or may not be Stirling based, allegedly dependent on a successful application.”

Mark Ruskell, Green councillor for Bridge of Allan, said: “Graham’s Dairy has a formidable track record in attracting capital investment already without needing to overturn planning policy to deliver deeply unpopular housing developments on the green belt.”

A spokesman for the dairy firm said: “As a long established, local family firm, we are extremely mindful of community views having been actively involved in consultation, exhibitions and dialogue since 2011.

“We recognise that members of the community have strong views, both positive and negative, on the development and within the context of the business case for the project, have tried as best as possible to shape the project in response to concerns.

“We have been consistent over our commitment to the project and to realise its benefits in terms of investment on jobs, amenities and housing.

“Our concerns over the Examination into the Local Development Plan are well known, but, critically, we contend that this application accords with the Local Development Plan.”