Big backlash to farmland development

MORE than 1000 people have objected to plans for a £90 million shopping and housing development in West Lothian, campaigners have said.

Hundreds of new homes, a supermarket, a hotel and a 48-bed care home have been lined up for farmland in Blackness Road, Linlithgow.

Investment firm Wallace Land insisted its blueprint had received backing from local groups, and would create 500 new jobs, affordable housing and a much-needed slip road on to the M9. It has also offered to spend £200,000 sprucing up Linlithgow town centre.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

But a consultation period has seen a huge backlash. West Lothian Council is still processing submissions, but it’s understood the vast majority are against the scheme.

David Tait, chairman of Linlithgow Business Association, said more than 1000 people had objected, and that plans to create the slip road were a “red herring” which would do little to ease congestion.

Mr Tait added: “The feeling is that this will completely ruin Linlithgow. It would have a disastrous impact on the traditional heart of the town.”

Linlithgow Civic Trust published a leaflet encouraging residents to voice their opposition. It fears pressure on schools, loss of farmland and increased traffic. John Aitken, the group’s chairman, said: “We feel this would be the wrong thing in the wrong place. We believe the supermarket will draw trade away from Linlithgow High Street.

“There have been major developments in Linlithgow before but never anything on this scale or that has generated this strength of feeling.”

Jason Wallace of Wallace Land admitted the project was “controversial” but said key groups had supported its plans.

He said: “Developments of this scale are controversial. The likes of the community football, tennis, gymnastics and dance clubs recognise the benefits such a development will bring.

“The West Lothian Chamber of Commerce support embodies the economic benefits this £90m scheme will bring.”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We are currently processing the representations, and expect the final total to reach over 1000.”