This post takes a look at the current Flamingo Land proposal for the riverside site (reddish area above) against the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority’s policy for the area, as set out in various plans. This reveals several shifts in policy in the last year.
The National Park Development Plan, approved by the Scottish Government earlier this year, included this map for Balloch. NO development was envisaged for Drumkinnon Woods. The Flamingo Land proposal for woodland walkways and holiday lodges in those woods is therefore contrary to the Development Plan.
Why are Flamingo Land therefore proposing to develop Drumkinnon Woods? Well, they know the Loch Lomond and National Park Authority is under significant pressure from the Scottish Government to ensure development of the Riverside Site and certain other sites in the National Park to promote economic development. That pressure was reflected in the DRAFT National Park Partnership Plan which contained this commitment:
The word “Delivery” is very strong and meant the LLTNPA was committing itself to complete developments in Balloch within the next five years. It put Flamingo Land in a very strong position because, if they threatened to walk away, the LLTNPA would miss its target with all the repercussions that would have for its relationship with the Scottish Government. It was an invitation to Flamingo Land to ignore the Development Plan.
It was a pleasant surprise therefore to see this in te revised National Park Partnership Plan to be considered by Board Members on Monday:
Instead of delivering key sites, the Plan now says the LLTNPA will “support” developments. What’s more the extract for Balloch (left) places the focus on the vision developed in the charrette (a community developed plan) and that again only proposed development for part of the Riverside site (see below).
Now the change of wording may only be because, having sat on the interview panel which selected Flamingo Land as the preferred developer, the LLTNPA might be open to legal challenge if it explicitly committed to delivering a development on the Riverside Site. It does however create the possibility for alternative plans to be developed. A small positive step in the right direction.
Critics of the Flamingo Land proposals however need to appreciate that the LLTNPA has a history of fitting policy to developments (ignoring policy on wild land, landscape, nature designations to allow developments to go ahead) rather than ensuring developments fit with policy and planning objectives. The challenge at Riverside is to ensure the LLTNPA sticks to its policy and statutory objectives.