Area’s MSP calls for local wishes to be ‘respected’ on Abronhill High site decision

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 17:19 on 29 January 2015.
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Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP, Jamie Hepburn.
CUMBERNAULD and Kilsyth SNP MSP, Jamie Hepburn has called on North Lanarkshire to “respect” the wishes of residents in Abronhill if and when they consider using the former Abronhill High School site for housing.

The MSP’s appeal comes after councillors on the Housing and Social Work Services committee unanimously approved a report earlier today (29 January) that recommended adding the former Abronhill High School site to a list of potential housing sites.

At meeting at the North Lanarkshire Council’s Civic Centre headquarters earlier today (29 January), elected members unanimously backed the report, entitled ‘Building for the Future – sites’.

In the report, Elaine McHugh, Head of Housing Services at the authority writes: “In February 2014 the council approved proposals to expand the new build programme by 150 units, to 1150 units. There are currently sites identified for approximately 825 units.”

Ms McHugh goes on to identify three key sites throughout North Lanarkshire that could potentially be used to build new housing schemes. 

St James' Primary School, Coatbridge is the first site identified. “Comprising approximately 1 .9ha. It is proposed to develop approximately 30 housing units on this site,” Ms McHugh explains in her report.

“Benhar Rd, Shotts − site comprising approximately 2.5ha… is proposed to develop approximately 30 housing units on this site,” Elaine adds.

The former site of Abronhill High School, in Larch Road, Cumbernauld is the third identified site – with the report suggesting that up to 60 houses could be built on the site.

The report explains that the former school site spans “approximately 3.09ha”, adding: “It is proposed to develop approximately 60 housing units on this site.”

The vote for the report means that the former Abronhill High School site goes on a list of “potential sites that could become housing schemes, subject to full planning,” a council spokesman explained to Cumbernauld Media. 

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council explained that the backing of the report was “unanimous”, clarifying that no on-site investigation has taken place.

The council spokesman added: “The vote only means that the Abronhill High School site is added to the list of potential sites – nothing is set in stone with regards to the development of the site, and anything that does take place is subject to the planning process.”

Jamie Hepburn, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s SNP MSP has since written to the authority, asking them to take into account the views and wishes of the people living in the area, when making any decision in the future.

“Following the news that North Lanarkshire Council is looking at building 60 housing units on the site where Abronhill High School used to stand I have written to the Council calling on them to go further,” the SNP man said.

“The prominent location of this site at the heart of the community meant that it was perfect for the school. The Council should have been building a modernised Abronhill High School here. Of course is right that this land is getting used productively, rather than lying neglected for much longer and in the midst of the on-going housing crisis it is right that some of this site be used to help address that.

“However the prominent location of this site and its proximity to the Abronhill shopping centre presents an opportunity. The centre of Abronhill needs some attention so this opportunity should be taken to look anew at how it functions and how this site could be used to address that.”

Mr Hepburn added: “In my letter to the Council I have also set out that the local community, who came together to passionately oppose the closure of this school, must be involved in this process. Their views must be actively sought by the Council and their wishes should be respected.”
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