Flamingo Land withdraws £30m Loch Lomond resort bid

The move comes after officials at the national park recommended for the board to reject the bid.

Flamingo Land withdraws £30m Loch Lomond resort bid Archive
Lomond Banks: Developers have withdrawn the application.

Flamingo Land has formally withdrawn its planning application for a £30m tourist resort on the shores of Loch Lomond.

The move comes after officials at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park recommended for the board to reject the bid.

The controversial Lomond Banks development – a joint venture between the theme park operator and Scottish Enterprise – included plans for a hotel, hostel, restaurants, craft brewery, boat house, leisure centre and six private houses in the Balloch area.

It was estimated that the development would create 80 full-time jobs, 50 part-time jobs and 70 seasonal roles in the area.

In June, West Dunbartonshire councillors unanimously rejected the development following tens of thousands of objections.

Earlier this month, planning chiefs at the national park recommended for the bid to be refused.

A report concluded that two key elements of the application – proposals in Drumkinnon Wood and at the Pierhead area – would result in “significant unacceptable impacts on the landscape, visual amenity, and trees and woodland”.

As a result, the proposed development would “adversely affect the area’s built heritage and the enjoyment of the Pierhead area by both visitors and locals”.

The report added that the application did not comply with the local development plan for the park and presented a conflict between its aim “to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area” and its other aim “to promote the sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities”.

The park’s board was set to consider the report at a special meeting, which was due to be held in public on September 24.

On Tuesday the developers announced they’d withdrawn the live application, however have not ruled out submitting fresh plans.

Andy Miller, director of Lomond Banks, said: “We’ve been working hard with all parties, including the National Park Authority, for more than two years to ensure all information relating to the proposed development was made readily available.

“We appreciate the planners have engaged professionally with our team during the application process, and we know the National Park recognise that the majority of what we propose fits in with the LDP.

“It is therefore surprising and disappointing that their recommendation report raises previously unidentified concerns and highlights the need for new additional information.

“Our priority now is to fully understand concerns, gather the necessary information and dispel some of the myths that continue to circulate around our ambitions for the site.

“It is only at this point, we will consider resubmitting our plans to ensure decision-makers will be able to take a fully informed decision on this important application.”

Allan McQuade, director of Scottish Enterprise, added: “Any proposed plan and investment of this scale must be considered from all angles and subsequent planning and investment decisions based on hard evidence and fact therefore it is only right that the current planning application be withdrawn to allow sufficient time for all parties to consider additional new information.

“As with previous developments at Loch Lomond, we understand people are concerned and our priority is to ensure that any development on the parcel of derelict land in Balloch is delivered in line with planning policy.”

A Save Loch Lomond petition was set up in response to the resort, with the campaign group arguing the need to preserve the national park for future generations.

Led by Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer, the petition generated more than 57,000 formal objections to the plans.

Mr Greer branded it the “most unpopular planning application in Scottish history”.

In response to the application withdrawal, Mr Greer said: “Flamingo Land’s environmentally destructive proposal was the most unpopular planning application in Scottish history.

“More than 57,000 people objected including many in the local community who saw through the spin.

“Now, following our historic campaign and the National Park’s own planning officers recommending a rejection, the developers have, for now, withdrawn their ridiculous plans.

“This is likely a transparent attempt to resubmit with a few small changes, cancelling the near 60,000 objections lodged to the current proposals.

“If they think such a cynical ploy will stop our community campaign, they have another thing coming. We will not stop until we have saved Loch Lomond from Flamingo Land’s greed.

“It is truly bizarre to see a letter from Flamingo Land’s lawyers, essentially labelling thousands of members of the public stupid for having quoted the developer’s own Environmental Impact Assessment in their objections.

“If Flamingo Land don’t like what’s being said, they shouldn’t have proposed such environmentally destructive plans for our world famous national park in the first place.”