Flamingo Land at Balloch a step closer with public consultation

Flamingo Land chiefs have unveiled plans for a public consultation as they seek to progress their proposals for a £30 million leisure resort at Balloch.

Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire. Picture: Karen Vernon/CC
Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire. Picture: Karen Vernon/CC

The Yorkshire-based firm is in the process of creating a website showcasing the proposals in a bid to win over local residents.

Tens of thousands of individuals have already signed a petition opposing the plans, while a number of locals staged a demonstration against the proposals by gathering in Drumkinnon Woods - part of the land which could be affected by the development if it gets the green light.

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Flamingo Land was selected by Scottish Enterprise as the preferred developers of the near 50-acre site, and the firm made their first announcement in September last year.

Derek McCrindle, director of the growth sector at Scottish Enterprise, said: “Following a stringent bidding process, Flamingo Land’s proposal - Iconic Leisure Resort Loch Lomond - clearly aims to recognise the key sensitivities of developing within Scotland’s national park.

”This, together with its strong track record in creating visitor attractions - currently home to the third most popular tourist attraction in the UK - made it the developer of choice for this opportunity.”

The firm have drawn up proposals including lodges, a boutique hotel and restaurants. A range of ‘high-quality, family-based attractions’ are also planned.

Chief executive Gordon Gibb said that the firm had seen ‘huge potential’ on the west riverside site, and were targeting the creation of a family-oriented attraction.

Mr Gibb added: “We are excited by the prospect of creating a resort in the national parl that recognises the importance and sensitivity of the site.

“We see huge potential on the West Riverside and view this as a fantastic opportunity to create a family-oriented attraction that supports the sustainable tourism objectives of the national park.

“Loch Lomond is internationally recognised and opportunities like West Riverside are rare.”

However, in September last year, Mr Gibb admitted that the plans would not go ahead if they weren’t supported by ‘most of the people in Scotland’.

He said: “Flamingo Land totally understands some of the local concerns about our proposed leisure resort in Balloch and we are committed to engaging with all parties involved to fully explain our ideas.

“Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

“To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans.”

Parkswatchscotland blogger Nick Kempe has branded the proposals a ‘tacky theme park’ adding: “With better public transport links Balloch could provide a wonderful entry point to the national park, but this needs to start from enhancement of existing greenspace, not its destruction.”

The public consultation could begin in September, according to reports.