Local Green MSP Ross Greer has called on East Dunbartonshire Council to reject an eleventh hour request to allow a major development on the edge of Milngavie.
The controversial plans, recently announced by landowners British Land, would turn roughly half of Dougalston Golf Course into housing, a senior living village, a holiday park, an outdoor activity attraction and commercial units. Despite the land not being allocated for development in the latest consultation on the Local Development Plan, and the deadline for public comments having passed, British Land have asked the council to make an eleventh hour alteration to the plan, one which would open the land up for their proposed development.
Greer has written to the council to raise a number of concerns  including the loss of green space, access & transport issues and the threat to ancient woodland on the site.
Ross Greer, Green MSP for the West of Scotland, said:
“This is a cynical attempt by a developer to subvert a local democratic process and maximise their profits from this site, regardless of the cost to the local community and environment. The council already have plans to meet local housing needs elsewhere, and while I’ve been the first to say that we can do more to take advantage of our position at the start of the West Highland Way, this is not the answer. British Land should be locked out.
“If the golf course is no longer needed, the future of the site should be focussed on opening up more greenspace to local residents, as well as protecting and enhancing habitats for wildlife. The opportunity for rewilding and tree planting in particular should be taken seriously as part of our local efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Instead, we’re faced with yet another development which is about nothing more than maximising corporate profits.”
Text of Ross Greer’s letter to the East Dunbartonshire Council, 22 July 2020:
I’d like to register my concern at the plans recently announced by British Land for a development on Dougalston Golf Course, Milngavie.
I understand that British Land have been lobbying the council to add this location to the list of sites for development in the proposed LDP2, which is due to be published later this year. This addition would be inappropriate, especially at such a late stage in the LDP process.
The LDP2 Main Issues report included more than sufficient land allocated to meet the projected housing need. These identified sites are broadly on brownfield sites and have few negative impacts. The Dougalston development would mean a significant loss of green space, including designated ancient woodland. While there may be an overprovision of golf courses in the area, if claims are true that this course is no longer needed, the future use should recognise and enhance Dougalston’s wildlife and natural beauty and not focus on development for profit. The opportunity for rewilding and tree planting in particular should be taken seriously as part of our local efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
I’m concerned about the future of the woodland, particularly ancient woodland around the perimeter of the course. While British Land’s diagrams show this intact I noticed that they hinted verbally during the webinar that lodges and outdoor activities could be positioned in the woodland, which would unavoidably cause significant damage to the woods and the wildlife within it. I know from experience of cases I’ve worked on elsewhere in the region that the profits which can be made from large numbers of lodges and the impact they have on a project’s overall financial viability can lead to significant pressure to include as many as possible, to the clear detriment of the local environment.
I would urge you to ensure that East Dunbartonshire Council’s planning policy makes clear that this woodland must remain completely untouched by development.
Another major issue with the plans is the impact on transport and infrastructure. The impact on Baldernock Road, a narrow and currently very quiet lane, is particularly worrying. Placing a senior living village up a steep hill from the nearest shops and public transport provision is also not particularly sensible. I note that questions were asked and not satisfactorily answered during the recent webinar about school provision.
I’m fully in support of the aim to find ways to harness the popularity of the West Highland Way and make it support the local economy. However, it is hard to see how the proposals will truly contribute in this way.
I look forward to the council’s response to my comments, and would appreciate being kept up to date with this issue.