Revised plans for Lomond Banks – the proposed £40m world class sustainable tourism destination in Balloch – were submitted today (23 February 2023).
The resubmission follows ongoing community feedback throughout the planning application process and a recent request from Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority to ensure the proposals further meet the vision for the area at West Riverside and Woodbank House, which has been identified for tourism development.
Having considered all of the feedback from the Park Authority, the community, and stakeholders alike we have made some significant amendments to support questions raised around, scale of development and the environment, including biodiversity and ecology and traffic and parking.
Some of the major changes include the complete removal of the proposed Area 10 from within the application’s red line boundary, with existing woodland retained instead. The previously proposed staff accommodation and facilities will now be absorbed into other areas of the development including Station Square, Woodbank House and Visitor Hub.
The density of holiday accommodation at Woodbank House has also been significantly reduced, by removing all 17 woodland bothies alongside five woodland lodges from this development area. Existing non-native and invasive species will also be removed and replaced with native trees and planting instead.
The reduced scale of development has produced further opportunities to plant more trees, enhancing the woodland setting for many of the self-catering lodges. It has also allowed the retention of all trees in Area 10 (the former area set aside for staff facilities area) and increased native tree planting at Woodbank, resulting in higher net biodiversity gain compared to the original proposals submitted.
Further still, we have also committed to retaining the amount of previously proposed compensatory planting, ensuring there is no reduction in terms of their input to biodiversity value.
Jim Paterson, Development Director for Lomond Banks, said: “We have been committed to listening to the National Park, the local community, local businesses and all other key stakeholders, and their feedback to date has really helped to shape our plans into something that fits the vision for a tourism business of the future, which Balloch and the wider Loch Lomond area could truly benefit from.
“We welcomed this latest feedback from the Park Authority and much of it aligned with what we were hearing from the community. We got to work to modify the proposals accordingly with our partners by removing Area 10, retaining more trees, bringing down lodge and bothy numbers and ensuring an overall higher net biodiversity gain.”
We have also provided further information on our parking strategy to reassure the National Park on the ample provision we have put in place across the development for the facilities that will be on offer. We have also provided further traffic statistics for different times of the year to indicate the uptake on traffic numbers at key locations in and around the area at peak times.
Jim added: “I must be very clear that the opposition is using traffic and parking as a scaremongering tool and their statistics and conclusions are simply not accurate. Whilst we do appreciate the road network is an ongoing concern for those living around the A82, our surveys have indicated that the development simply will not bring the concentrated numbers at peak times that it is being accused of and we have mitigated this further by introducing measures such as staggered check-in and check-out times to ensure this is not the case.
“All traffic surveys submitted to our statutory consultees West Dunbartonshire Council Roads Department have, to date, been satisfactory. We have also submitted a comprehensive parking strategy to the National Park and conducted further surveys through peak seasons to submit to the Parks Authority. Alongside this, we have made a number of commitments to join working groups to look at sustainable travel planning and eco-travel at the venue, to help ease congestion for the longer term.”
In addition to traffic and transport the National Park asked us to provide assurances around the location and position of the John Muir Way, as a walkway of national importance. We have clarified this and assured once again our position on providing permanent access to all.
Jim concluded: “Our commitment to Balloch shines through with this amended submission. We have been steadfast in our dedication to making this submission about the community and it has been very much shaped by their voice and opinion. The plans blend the natural beauty and ecology of the area with the local business opportunities alongside the rejuvenation of Woodbank House – bringing back to life a forgotten treasure.
“We believe, our proposals continue to fulfil the objectives set out in the Local Development Plan and in the Balloch Charrette and that these revisions address the matters raised by interested parties, benefitting the area, in a manner that both the local and wider community can be truly proud of for generations to come.”
The resubmission triggers a 30-day consultation period with all statutory consultees before the application can be progressed and determined by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.