Lothian agrees to housing proposal

A series of self-contained settlements made up of 12,000 homes, schools and shops has been mooted by West Lothian Council as part of a long-term development strategy.

They will be bolted on to existing communities such as Livingston, Winchburgh and Armadale to meet growth estimates in the latest Edinburgh and Lothians structure plan. The proposals will be included in the West Lothian local plan, which is due to be published early in the new year.

"This is a supplementary process to the local plan," explained Craig McCorriston, the local authority's strategic planning manager. "The council made it clear that it wants to consult on the options available to meet housing demand."

Officials believe that early contact with developers could avoid objections later in the local plan process. McCorriston said: "The indications are that interested parties whose sites are not included have joined other consortia. We hope that the plan will progress without much protest about sites that have been excluded come the inquiry."

Verbal agreements have already been reached for developers to build three secondary and 12 primary schools at a cost of around £85 million. "We want to locate our services in existing cores rather than creating shopping centres or health care facilities outside them," said McCorriston.

The structure plan estimates that 7,000 further homes will be required up to 2015, with 5,000 in subsequent years. Around 5,000 would be built in the Livingston, Almond Valley and East Calder areas, 5,000 in Winchburgh, East Broxburn and Uphall and 2,000 in Armadale.

Enterprise and development committee convener Willie Dunn commented: "West Lothian is the fastest growing area in Scotland and we need to plan ahead to meet our future needs.

"This scale of development raises a number of challenges. Development must bring benefits to existing communities and we will ensure that happens," Dunn added. A local plan inquiry is due to be held late next year.

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