Storm gathers over Loch Lomond

Started by Newshound, October 12, 2004, 07:31:06

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Storm gathers over Loch Lomond development

IT is a town caught in a state of flux, without a bank or police station, but abuzz with talk of a multi-million pound plan that will revitalise the economy.
Balloch has been touted as the gateway to the new Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and, with proposals for a hotel and tens of thousands of square feet of retail and leisure developments, this quiet corner of West Dunbartonshire is on the cusp of a transformation.
But there is a growing fear that the changes could spell trouble. With the prospect of scores of timeshare houses and flats being built, there is concern that the identity of the town could be washed away.
As part of a regeneration project, Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire (SED) has been congratulated in developing old industrial sites, but preliminary plans for a swathe of housing on the banks of the Leven - much of it earmarked for timeshare - are giving cause for concern.
The land - from the Maid of the Loch to Sweeney's boatyard - is priceless in the eyes of the community, and were it to disappear there is a feeling that locals could become strangers in their own town.
Murdoch Cameron, chairman of Balloch and Haldane community council, has expressed dissatisfaction with SED's intentions, and said: "We have serious reservations. We're not against progress, but if all this goes ahead it would turn Balloch into a dormitory town ... these plans would do away with the last green corridor in our community. It's a beautiful place and the only bit of green land left apart from Balloch Park."
Jim Biddulph, a Balloch resident, agreed: "It's not at the stage of widespread protests yet, but we have to act early to stop Balloch being turned into the one big housing estate," he said.
Cruising clubs in the area, concerned that access to their boats will be blocked, have also entered the fray. Several have only around two years remaining of temporary planning permission for their moorings and the thought of a developer throwing them off the land has spurred them into action.
Members of Balloch Cruising Club, for example, have uncovered an ancient royal charter which preserves a public right of free access to the banks of the River Leven.
The sensitivity of the situation is recognised by SED, which insists its proposals are at such an early stage that it is undecided as to the scale of any housing scheme. So far, the enterprise company is only inviting expressions of interest from developers in order to establish ability and track record, but DTZ, a property firm, has already researched the demand for retail and residential uses in the area.
The National Park Authority, in charge of overall plans to revamp the region, will not publish a comprehensive planning framework until next year. Such is the trepidation over housing, the community council has asked it to draw up a separate scheme for Balloch.


I have a timeshare week at Cameron House, close to proposed Balloch development. I was thinking of selling, but I wonder if value is likely to increase. Any opinions?



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