Green light for 1,000 homes plan on site of abandoned and 'haunted' West Lothian hospital
The major redevelopment of the Bangour Village Hospital site to create almost 1,000 new homes has been given the green light by a meeting of West Lothian Council.
Planning permission in principle was voted through by 12 to 6.
It kick-starts a lengthy process which will bring the builders back to council for each phase of major redevelopment of the site. The backing also comes with a lengthy set of conditions on detail of the work that must be done, traffic calming and elements of the proposed development, including retail.
Formal approval has raised questions about the potential knock-on effects on the surrounding transport and roads and rail infrastructure. It condemned some of the listed buildings on the site but will also preserve the most important including the church and the recreation hall which will be incorporated into a new primary school for the area.
All at the meeting were left in no doubt the change that the full implementation of plans by Ambassador Group will bring to what remains a largely under-developed and rural hinterland north of Livingston.
Describing details of the proposal Bob Evans for the developers, said there are around 36,000 trees on the site but only one third are original the remainder are later “plantation” style growth. For all trees removed new would be replanted on the site.
David Gaffney of the Ambassador Group described the application as a milestone and hailed the potential economic input into the county from its development.
Councillor Harry Cartmill, one of Bathgate’s Labour councillors, whose mother worked as a wartime nurse in the hospital, said he had very deep concerns about the proposals.
He said: “Parking in the town is a constant issue for myself and the other councillors in Bathgate. We are going to be inundated if we are seen to approve this knowing its knock-on effects. I don’t think we are doing our job.”
He added that he had already questioned the value of Local Development Plan and whether it was worth the paper it was written on. “Yet again we are ripping it up,” he added.
After the meeting local Conservative councillor, Chris Horne, said: “The development gets the first significant hurdle out of the way to be able to save listed buildings on a well-loved site, whilst seeing a meaningful development.
"There are major pressures that could come with traffic and infrastructure, but I believe we have enough safeguards in place to proceed with caution.”
Speaking after the meeting Gordon Coster, managing director of Ambassador Group’s Developments Division said: “We are very pleased by the decision made by the planning committee, it has been many years in the making to reach this point. We are incredibly excited to progress to detailed plans to
bring this landmark development to fruition and give new life to such a prominent piece of West Lothian’s history.
“Preserving and honouring the history of Bangour Village is of upmost importance to us, and will continue to be a key consideration as we move forward."
Last June, Police Scotland stepped-up patrols, using tracker dogs, amid a security crackdown at the former psychiatric hospital which is a draw for "ghost hunters" from far and wide
It is also lauded as "one of the most atmospheric places in Scotland" by tourist website Undiscovered Scotland.