Schools receive £1m boost from Lothians ‘new town’

TWO primary schools are to share a £1 million bonanza after plans to build a new “town” on their doorstep were approved.

Winchburgh and Holy Family primary schools, in West Lothian, which share a campus, have been handed the cash by Sigma, the Capital-based firm behind a £1 billion development that could see Winchburgh’s population rocket by 600 per cent.

The new settlement, complete with its own railway station on the Edinburgh to Glasgow line, 3500 new homes, a new town centre and retail facilities, could be finished within 15 years.

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The £1m was given to West Lothian Council to fund the schools’ expansion to cope with the increased demand the population boom will bring.

Eventually, five new schools, a motorway junction and a park could be built as part of the £100m-plus investment in “community gain” projects.

John Hamilton, development director at Sigma, said the building project was the biggest in West Lothian in four decades and was expected to provide a huge economic boost.

He said: “It’s been in the works for a number of years. At the moment it’s a small mining village. The population is around 2000 but would increase to between 10,000 an 12,000.

“There is demand for the housing. It is close to the boundary with Edinburgh and it’s an easy commute.”

The full development was approved in principle by West Lothian Council last week, with work on the first phase, which includes 177 new two-storey family homes, set to begin this summer.

Alex Davidson, who has retained his place on West Lothian Council as a representative of the Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh ward, said he welcomed the development but was keen to ensure the benefits were delivered.

“I want to see jobs for local people out of this,” he said. “I want to see affordable housing and all of the other advantages that have been promised. Unemployment is also a mega problem here.”

Contractors are being sought to flatten land and install utilities infrastructure for the initial phase of house building. It is planned that at least 25 per cent of new homes will be classed as affordable housing, while council houses are also expected to be built.

Mr Hamilton said: “The community is generally in favour of it. There has been a sense of frustration at the length of time it’s taken to get through the planning process.

“But now it’s happening the community want to be involved in the more detailed aspects. We will be consulting with them.”