Glasgow & West Scotland

Flamingo Land's Loch Lomond resort may be refused

Lomond Banks Image copyright Lomond Banks
Image caption An artist's impression of how the development at Loch Lomond would look

Plans by Flamingo Land to build a £30m tourist resort on Loch Lomond may be rejected, a new report suggests.

Officials for the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority recommended that its board reject the bid ahead of a decision later this year.

More than 55,000 objections were lodged against the development between April and May.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said the news was a "monumental victory".

The decision on whether to allow the development lies with the park authority - not the local council.

The proposals include a 60-bedroom apart-hotel, a 32-bedroom budget accommodation, a craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and restaurants.

There will also be upgrades to public footpaths and green spaces.

Image copyright Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Image caption A hotel, lodges and "glamping pods" form part of the plan for the site at Balloch

It is estimated the Lomond Banks development at Balloch - which could open by 2024 - would create 80 full-time jobs, 50 part-time jobs and 70 seasonal roles in the area.

While the proposal was drawn up by theme-park operator, it is not branded as Flamingo Land. Developers previously insisted the resort would not be a theme park.

Meanwhile campaigners fear the project will spoil the scenery and limit access to the shoreline for locals.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The operators of the Flamingo Land holiday resort in North Yorkshire have lodged plans - but the Loch Lomond site would not carry the same brand name

A park authority report notes the plan "has not demonstrated that there will be no adverse impacts on the character or integrity" of the existing asset.

It states: "Two key elements of the application - proposals in Drumkinnon Wood and at the Pierhead area - would result in significant unacceptable impacts on the landscape, visual amenity, and trees and woodland.

"As a result, the proposed development would adversely affect the area's built heritage and the enjoyment of the Pierhead area by both visitors and locals.

"There are no socio-economic reasons, or public benefits that would outweigh these reasons. It is also not considered that the use of planning conditions could reasonably control or mitigate these impacts."

The report is a recommendation only, with the final planning decision to be made by the board after a public hearing on 24 September.

'Widespread anger'

The campaign opposing the plans was led by Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer MSP while West Dunbartonshire Council - the major statutory consultee - unanimously recommended refusal.

An online petition against the Lomond Banks development has been passed to planners.

Mr Greer said he was "delighted" officials had recognised the "avalanche of objections" following the recommendation.

He continued: "A glance at the plans shows quite clearly why anger is so widespread. Their proposals admit the development will result in injury and death to red squirrels and otters, pollute running and standing water and damage ancient woodland.

"The park board must now acknowledge what their own officials, the public and the local authority have told them about the potential impact of this development.

"To grant permission now would be to put the interests of big business ahead of the public and the world-famous environment and wildlife of the loch. It's time to reject Flamingoland once and for all."

'Leave us in peace'

Leader of West Dunbartonshire council Jonathan McColl welcomed the recommendation but said "the fight isn't over yet".

He continued: "The recommendation makes it much more likely that the application will be refused.

"The developer's agent, Andy Millar was very clear in meetings with me that if it became clear that the development did not have support locally, they would withdraw the application.

"Instead they withdrew and resubmitted new plans that did not address local concerns. Not only is there widespread objection to the proposals locally and nationally, but now even the planning professionals are saying no.

"We will fight the developer at every step, and with this recommendation they should take stock, be true to their word, and leave our community in peace."

Flamingoland have been approached for comment.

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