Flamingo Land changes breached planning process

Ross Greer MSP urges developers to 'walk away' after experts object to multiple flaws in application.

Changes in a controversial bid to erect a holiday mega park in a much loved area of natural beauty on the banks of Loch Lomond broke strict planning processes and should be booted into touch, according to legal experts.

Yorkshire-based Flamingo Land had to make a series of sweeping revisions to their plans to erect hotels, lodges, waterpark and monorail after Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authorities queried 16 areas of concern.

The blitz of alterations were submitted after problems with the monster sized development were first flagged to the Park Authority by local Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer and leading planning law expert Ian Cowan.

Now further investigation has found the late changes were in breach of planning processes, which mandate that developers start their application again when major revisions are made.

Even if the plans were to be considered immediately, a set of new rules recently approved by Parliament, called National Planning Framework 4, would almost certainly see them rejected on environmental grounds.

  • Mr Cowan, of experts Highland Environmental Law, has now lodged an official objection on behalf of Mr Greer highlighting the legal flaws in Flamingo Land’s final objection. The objection states: 

‘You are no doubt aware of the provisions of section 32A of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended) (“the Act”), saying that a planning application for planning permission may be varied after it is made, but only “with the agreement of the planning authority”, and that “if the planning authority consider the variation to be such that there is a substantial change in the description of the development for which planning permission is sought, they are not to agree to the variation”. 

My client submits that the revision of the site boundary of any planning application has to be regarded as a substantial variation of that application, that the Applicant has no right to subvert due process by varying the Application in response to comments from members of the public, and therefore that, if you have already considered and agreed to this variation, you should not have agreed to it. If so, please provide a copy of the written record of your decision or post it on the public portal for the Application. 

If you have not already decided whether or not to agree to the variation, my client urges you not to agree to it, for the reasons given, but instead recommend that, if the Applicant wishes to alter the proposed development in this way, they withdraw the Application and submit a new application.’ 

Mr Greer’s final letter of objection also argues that the developer will have known the new NPR4 planning framework would become active and have an impact on their plans.

The letter adds:

The Applicant has submitted, as part of the Addendum, an Updated Planning Statement which purports to provide the assessment requested. At the date of the Letter, the revised draft NPF4 had already been laid before and approved by the Scottish Parliament and was, as the Letter recognised, “due to be adopted by Scottish Ministers on 13 February 2023” (just 3 days later), yet the Applicant appears to consider the pre-existing policy framework of greater importance.’

Mr Greer, who was subject of a desperate personal attack from the site development director Jim Paterson at the weekend, said evidence was “mounting by the day” that Flamingo Land had got it badly wrong.

He said:

“It is becoming abundantly clear that this project is dead in the water. Seventy thousand people have lodged objections to this unwanted development, three in four local residents oppose it and they’ve been forced to amend their plans because they were so badly botched in the first place.

“If Flamingo Land cannot respect the planning process, far less actually get it right, and if they can’t recognise the strength of local and national outrage against what they are proposing, then how can they possibly be trusted as future custodians of an area of such national significance?

“Those behind these environmental wrecking proposals can employ all the PR spin and personal attacks against me they want, but all it does is confirm that they have nothing of substance left to say in defence of their destructive plans. 

“Their paperwork has been flawed, they have become a national scandal, the people of Balloch want to see the back of them and the self-imposed reputational damage on the Flamingo Land brand is significant.

“They should do the right thing, admit defeat, apologise for the upset and anxiety they have brought to the community and just walk away. That is the least they should do.”

“There are simply no grounds on which to grant consent to such a destructive and unwelcome development. Loch Lomond is a national treasure and I’m prepared to use every tool at my disposal to protect it.”

Mr Greer also warned that he would consider seeking a judicial review in the Court of Session if the proposals for a mega-resort at Balloch is granted planning permission by the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority.

In his updated comprehensive objection, submitted by Mr Cowan, it states:

‘Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a world-class destination, and deserves nothing less. An ‘exemplar development’ would surely meet all the requirements on the new National Planning Framework, but on closer scrutiny, it is clear that many aspects of the proposed development fall well short of the required standards, even as broadly outlined in the Application. 

‘My client therefore stands by his objections as set out in my letter to you dated 15 September 2022, urges you again to recommend to the Authority’s Planning Committee that the Application be refused, and gives you notice again that, should it be approved, my client will consider petitioning the Court of Session for judicial review of that decision.”



Image Credit: Paul Johnston