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August 3, 2010

Developers renege on offer

Two years ago the village of Plean in Stirlingshire was facing a proposal from a consortium of housing developers that would transform their former coal mining community into a thriving central belt commuter village. In return for supporting a proposal to build 500 new houses, the community were promised a £6million package of investment towards the community’s regeneration.  Amid growing acrimony and accusations of broken promises , storm clouds are gatherin

Iain Howie, Stirling Observer

REGENERATION plans for Plean could be shelved after a fallout between developers and the village’s community development trust.

Relations have broken down between Waveband Properties and trust directors over millions of pounds which was agreed in part to help reinvigorate the village, but has now been chopped in half, according to the trust.

And Stirling Council has joined the fallout, saying that recent correspondence it had received appeared to show there was never any intention to make a financial commitment to regenerating Plean.

The cash was in the pipeline to help extend and improve local facilities and was tied up in a major housing development of 500 homes by Sears Property Group and Ogilvie Homes, agreed at a Stirling Council planning panel meeting last year.

Plean Community Development Trust said £6 million of investment had been agreed and that it had backed the plans on that basis.

But, since then PCDT says relations have soured and it has now withdrawn support for the development, as well as possibly facing massive legal costs alone.

Chairman Tommy Brookes told the Observer: “Plean Community Trust and the people of Plean have been badly let down and misled by Waveband Properties.

“At the Stirling Council Planning Panel in January 2009, Waveband agreed on a £6m regeneration package for Plean. This was why the planning panel agreed for the council to negotiate with Waveband on this basis.

“Recently, without any consultation with the trust, Waveband effectively cut this package in half and has not lived up to any of its promises, including paying the trust’s legal and other fees.

“Waveband’s antics could mean our village centre may not be built and the trust is now almost penniless because of legal and other fees.

“We want nothing more to do with Waveband, unless they revert back to their original terms and promises.”

He added: “We intend to work on building our own village centre, as well as other benefits to our community although this may now take longer to achieve.”

The Stirling Observer contacted Ogilvie Homes, part of the development group, which said it could not make any statement regarding the cash, or quotes attributed to Waveband made this week.

But Stirling Council did respond, saying: “The (planning) panel indicated that they were minded to grant the application subject to the applicants entering into a Section 75 Legal Agreement to deliver education, affordable housing and other elements of the regeneration initiative.

“In April 2009 the applicants produced a draft agreement, which was unacceptable in its form and content. In June 2009 they produced a further draft that was equally unacceptable.

“The council provided the applicants with a draft in September 2009, which they took seven months to consider and return with their proposals in April.

“That draft is currently being considered by council officers.

“In 18 months, the applicants have yet to satisfy the planning authority that they intend to deliver the planning gain and community benefits that were promised.

“Indeed, recent correspondence from one of the applicants now tends to indicate that they never had any intention of making any financial commitment to the Plean regeneration initiative.”

The Pleanbank development has been highly controversial after it took the casting vote of planning panel chair Alasdair Macpherson to push the plan through in January last year.

The go-ahead flew in the face of planners’ concerns that had said it was contrary to planning policies and that there were problems with extending East Plean Primary to cope with any influx of families to the new homes.