A former abattoir site on the edge of Bathgate is to be redeveloped for housing after laying derelict for more than 20 years.
The site on Whitburn Road was vacated in the late 1990s and has long been earmarked for new housing.
Proposals by an Irish building firm, Urban Life, were first put before West Lothian’s Development Control Committee two months ago. They met with opposition from neighbours in Birniehill Crescent which neighbours the site to the north and east.
They had complained that proposals would hit the privacy of back gardens by removing trees and building properties hard up against their boundary.
There were also concerns about tree loss.
Redrawn proposals put a road and new tree belt between homes on the new estate and Birniehill Crescent. Most of the new homes have also been re-orientated to sit gable end on to the crescent rather than backing onto it.
Ewan McIntyre, agent for the developers, told the committee that his clients were prepared to accept recommendations from the committee to be able to press ahead with the long running preparation of the plans.
Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick had also expressed concern about the loss of a tree belt of Scots Pine which has grown as screening of the former meat plant along Whitburn Road. The site occupies a prominent point high above the main road into Bathgate from Whitburn.
Councillor Fitzpatrick had questioned assertions that the Scots pine was of little value. Hearing promises from Mr McIntyre that the trees planted to replace the lost screening belt would be a range of whips and medium standard mature species he highlighted that the Scots Pine was a nesting site for Crossbills – an endangered bird.
The council’s arboriculturalist Craig Sinclair, in a report to committee, had no objection to the removal of the pine noting: “The trees on the site frontage are unsuitable for residential development given they have a potential 40m height. The trees have grown in height disproportionately to their girth making them more susceptible to wind damage and failure. The trees have limited ecological value and they have outlived their primary function as screening to the abattoir.”
Responding to questions from Councillor Fitzpatrick he told the committee the screen belt of trees contained a range of trees including Sitka spruce and Norway spruce, not only Scots pine.
Councillor Willie Boyle, a Bathgate councillor, told the meeting he was pleased with what he had read in the reports adding: “I’m grateful we were able to address the issues raised. I’m looking forward to this development moving ahead. I think it’s been a derelict site for far, far too long.”