Council moves on plans to build 800 houses on Cumbernauld’s Forest Road

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 18:29 on 7 May 2014.
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The council want to build 800 houses. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

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CUMBERNAULD’S Forest Road has been the setting for debates surrounding housing proposals since the days of the Cumbernauld Development Corporation, although houses were never built on the land due to old fireclay mines. Now, however, plans are being brought forward that could see nearly 1,000 new houses built on the land adjacent to Glencryan Woodlands, in Abronhill.

As we reported in July last year, North Lanarkshire Council were looking towards building up to 2,000 new houses on Forest Road by 2020, as part of their ‘Community Growth Area’ programme, which identified the need for 6,000 new homes across Glenboig, in Gartcosh, South Cumbernauld and South Wishaw.

Talking to Cumbernauld Media last July, a council spokesperson explained: “Community Growth Areas are places that can accommodate large-scale, urban growth and the proposals are in the North Lanarkshire Local Plan, this received council approval at the Planning and Transportation Committee on 21 April 2010.  

“The Community Growth Areas will not just meet the demand for new housing but provide other things, such as shops, schools, leisure facilities and open space. The demand for new housing and locations was identified by The Glasgow and Clyde Valley Joint Structure Plan.”

At the time, North Lanarkshire Council published concept statements for each of the Growth Areas, with each of the statements incorporating the views of the respondents to the consultation into the plans. 

The council spokesperson added: “In order to engage with local communities and those with an interest, we undertook a consultation exercise, which helped us identify how people would like to see the areas developed. All comments received have now been considered and the Concept Statements have been altered.

“The principles set out in the Concept Statement will now be taken forward in a Strategic Development Framework document. This will provide developers with further detailed information on what will be required for them to develop the area. We are presently working on this, and it will form the basis for determining future master-plans and planning applications.”

When published, the vision for the South Cumbernauld Community Growth Area was that a new development be designed and built to a “high quality”, and integrate well with the existing communities and local environment; creating a, “clear identity and contributing to local distinctiveness”; provide for community needs; be sustainable, both environmentally and socially, in terms of protecting, enhancing and expanding environmental assets, encouraging accessibility, reducing energy and resource consumption, and being designed around people to create a well-designed and safe place where people want to live; provide infrastructure appropriate to the development; and, improve Health and Wellbeing.

Since the authority published their concept statements on the Area projects, a public consultation was held; a consultation which showed people had reservations about the impact of development on the Bean Geese at the Slamannan Plateau, as well as concerns about inclusion of an area of local wildlife; high voltage electricity transmission cables; the future of Cumbernauld Model Flying Club; and, potential visual landscape impact from any development.

Thereafter, North Lanarkshire Council began to redraw their proposals; and, with the plans altered, an application for an environmental impact assessment into proposals to construct 800 houses, with mixed use community facilities, open public space, landscaping, associated roads and infrastructure was lodged on November 1st, 2013. The application has since been approved; and, on April 1st, 2014, a decision letter to Anderson Bell & Christie Architects to confirm that an assessment can and should go ahead before April 2019. 

Explaining the authority’s decision to back the assessment, Shirley Linton, Head of Planning & Regeneration said: “Overall it is concluded by this planning authority that an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for this development.

“The development is of a type listed in Column 1 of Schedule 2 and it is likely to have significant environmental impact on the surrounding area and in particular the nearby SPA, SSSI, SAC and adjacent SINC. The proposed development is likely to increase population levels in this area with resultant increases in traffic volumes with potential to adversely impact on air quality. In addition the development would require an appropriate drainage strategy and a flood risk assessment should be carried out. This opinion is based on consideration of the characteristics of the development, the location of the development and the characteristics of the potential impacts.  Should you disagree with this decision then I would refer you to section 7 of The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 which affords you the right to request a screening direction from the Scottish Ministers.”

In the latest move on the project, however, Kenneth Wilson, Head of Environment and Estates has asked members of the Environmental Services committee to declare 25.25 hectares of Mid-Forest Road “surplus to requirements”, which is the first stage is a sell-off of the land which the council owns, although any development is likely to be completed over the coming decade. 

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