From countryside to commuter hub: New town to spring up in West Lothian

David Dodds of West Lothian Council, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, John Hamilton of Winchburgh Developments Limited, Derek Mackay and Sir Tom Hunter. Picture: PA
David Dodds of West Lothian Council, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, John Hamilton of Winchburgh Developments Limited, Derek Mackay and Sir Tom Hunter. Picture: PA
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A new town is set to emerge in West Lothian with the go-ahead being given for almost 3,500 homes encircling the historic village of Winchburgh.

The development – one of the largest in the UK – will include schools, a marina, employment land, transport links and other infrastructure. The town will bring a major jobs boost and is forecast to generate up to £1 billion for the economy over 15 to 20 years.

The general outlook is it’s a good thing. There’s always going to be a bit of pushback, but … there’s a lot of excitement about what is coming

GRAHAM CAMPBELL Winchburgh Community Council

Around 550 homes have already been built since 2012, but no further development could take place until agreement was reached on providing new infrastructure.

Now a deal between the Scottish Government, West Lothian Council and Winchburgh Developments Ltd (WDL) – a joint venture between Sir Tom Hunter’s private equity partnership West Coast Capital and Cala Homes – has unlocked the rest of the project.

Multiple housebuilders are expected to be involved in the project, which will see the construction of 3,450 new houses, including 700 affordable homes and 400 for social rent. A 75-acre district park, 35 acres of employment land, a 30-berth marina off the Union Canal and a new town centre will also be created.

A new junction will be built on the M9 to provide direct access to the development and a railway station could also be opened later.

Sir Tom paid tribute to the government and West Lothian Council for their support for the Winchburgh Village development.

He said: “Having already delivered over 558 homes in the first phase with five national housebuilders, we now look forward to moving forward with many more housebuilders to deliver much needed homes for West Lothian in the next phase of development.”

Phase one of the project saw five private housebuilders – Barratt Homes, Miller Homes, Bellway, Stewart Milne Homes and Taylor Wimpey – active on site. In addition, West Lothian Council and the Wheatley Group, through its subsidiary West Lothian Housing Partnership, delivered 96 affordable housing units for social rent in the new town centre.

Graham Campbell, secretary of Winchburgh Community Council, said the development was welcomed by most local people. “The general outlook is it’s a good thing,” he said. “There’s always going to be a bit of pushback, but we’ve had phase one already and everything seems to have integrated well. There’s a lot of excitement about what is coming.”

Work is expected to start this spring or summer on preparatory work to transform an old landfill site into the 75-acre public park. The next piece of land for new homes will be handed over to housebuilders this summer.

Cala chief executive Kevin Whitaker said: “We are delighted to be partnering with West Coast Capital to help fund and deliver a high quality, sustainable development that will bring multi-tenure housing, education and infrastructure to West Lothian.”

The Government’s Building Scotland Fund will provide a £26.8 million loan to assist the development as part of a support package agreed under the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay said: “The Winchburgh development is a leading example of a joined up approach between the private sector, government and local council. It will help stimulate the economy and bring new homes, schools, transport and community facilities to the area.”