The major redevelopment of a hospital site in West Lothian to create almost 1000 new homes has been agreed by council planners.
It kick-starts a lengthy process that will see builders return for each phase of the major redevelopment of Bangour Hospital.
Planning permission in principle was voted through by councillors by 12 to six.
The backing also comes with a lengthy set of conditions on the detail of the work that must be done, such as traffic calming and elements of the proposed development including retail.
It also raises questions about the potential knock-on effects on the surrounding transport infrastructure.
The move will mean the end for some 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.
Planners questioned the developers’ proposals to build 998 units on the site – only around 90 would be incorporated into existing listed buildings.
The Local Development Plan details the site should take no more than 550 housing units and argued that almost doubling the development size will mean the loss of 7000 trees.
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 the local development plan.
But councillor Bruce Fairbairn said it was a “great opportunity for this council to bring West Lothian further into the 21st century”.
He said: “Nothing this size comes without challenges so we should rise to this challenge.”
By local democracy reporter Stuart Sommerville