New plans for Flamingo Land’s £40m Balloch development are revealed

A monorail, indoor water park, hotel, lodges and a watersports hub are back on the cards for Balloch as Flamingo Land reveals revived plans for a £40million resort.

The details have been revealed as the first people began to give feedback on the ‘Lomond Banks’ development.

Project bosses are seeking views on the resort as part of a consultation website – and they vow that these will be used to pull together final plans.

The early proposals confirm that a monorail connecting the development with Balloch Station Square is still part of the plans.

Alongside this, the pierhead development will incorporate an aparthotel, indoor water park, reception and indoor attractions, staff offices, a water sports hub and storage, a visitor hub and food and drinks provision.

Beside the slipway and the Maid of the Loch, there proposes to be a hotel and indoor/outdoor water based leisure centre. Public access to the beach and access to and parking for the slipway and paddle steamer remain.

At the riverside, there proposes to be forest lodges, picnic and barbecue areas as well as playgrounds and the monorail.

And at Station Square, Lomond Banks proposes a refurbished tourist information centre, a “boots and bikes” style budget hotel, restaurant and a performance amphitheatre, craft brewery and visitor centre.

The website, which went live last Tuesday, states the major changes to the original proposal which was withdrawn over two years ago.

The main amendments are:

• Smaller buildings at the pierhead to reduce the visual impact on the landscape;

• No development at Drumkinnon Woods but enhancement of existing paths and a “woodland management strategy” to protect the area;

• Renovation of Woodbank House which will be brought back into active use;

• Access for boat clubs and the public maintained at the riverside.

All of these are conditional on the proposals being approved by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Flamingo Land expect to lodge the plans next February with a decision by June 2022, they hope.

West Dunbartonshire Council leader Jonathan McColl is urging people to make their views known.

He said: “Whatever is agreed upon will impact everyone in the area, so it’s important we take the opportunity find out what the plans are and to have our say.”

Reasons given for the refusal back in 2019 included that the proposals did not contribute to the national park being a successful, sustainable place with officers saying at the time “it would not conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area”.

The report went on to say: “There are no socioeconomic reasons or public benefits that would outweigh these reasons.”

Feedback from the current consultation with key stakeholders including the council, residents and the business community will be used to help shape design proposals.

New plans for Flamingo Land's £40m Balloch development are revealed

According to the site: “Evolved designs will be presented at a further consultation event in November.”

Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce facilitated a stakeholder engagement session with members of the business community last week.

Chief executive Damon Scott said: “It was really important for local businesses have the opportunity to build an understanding of the planned development, to raise any issues with the Lomond Banks team, to influence the plans and maximise any benefits.”

The consultation document provides reassurance that protected species within the area such as bats and red squirrels “will be properly managed and protected”.

And they stress that public access will be maintained and if there are any impacts on routes during construction this will be

“Short term and localised diversions will be put in place”.

The document goes on: “Once operational, there will be 24/7 unrestricted public access allowed and on-site management will ensure safety for all.”

Conservative Balloch councillor Sally Page believes that investment would be better spent in making Loch Lomond Shores more attractive and successful by developing it to a higher standard.

She explained that in a meeting between councillors and Scottish Enterprise first time round, the government agency “agreed that Loch Lomond Shores wasn’t a commercial success”.

Aerial shots of Loch Lomond Shores looking out towards Loch Lomond and the Maid of the Loch. Taken May 2020 **MUST CREDIT TURKEYREDMEDIA**
The new drama is filmed in locations across the area – including Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch.

Sally went on: “If we could concentrate more effort on making Loch Lomond Shores a commercial success, changing what is offered there, we could have accommodation on the top floors, cafes and shops on the bottom floor.

“Quite a lot of premises lie empty or change hands quickly. It’s obviously not paying it’s way at the moment. Why don’t we sort that out before we put anything else in place?

“I feel there’s a long, long way to go. A lot of residents of Balloch don’t want it full stop. Tinkering around the edges doesn’t make much difference.”

One of the major concerns which was submitted by West Dunbartonshire Council to the application which was withdrawn in September 2019 was the impact of traffic travelling to and from Lomond Banks.

This has been addressed in the consultation document with developers saying: “A transport assessment will predict the traffic impact on the local road network and will identify any mitigation measures. Priorities include minimising vehicle movement across the site and maintaining access to the slipway. Opportunities to work collaboratively with surrounding businesses to provide shared car parking will be explored to maximise the overall Balloch visitor experience.”

A second public consultation will be held in November when more detailed plans will be shared.

Any comments on this stage should be submitted to Lomond Banks by October 15.

New plans for Flamingo Land's £40m Balloch development are revealed

Fiona Robertson, who is the community liaison lead for the Lomond Banks development, said: “We are pleased to give the local community the opportunity to view these early plans, consider the significant changes we have made to the proposal, and help shape our vision further, ahead of the planning being submitted to the National Park Authority in early 2022.

“We have worked hard to liaise with local representatives, locals businesses and the wider community to ensure we have a process in place that allows our proposals to be further shaped and have been very grateful to those who have taken the time to review the current plans and offer constructive feedback on areas they like and areas that might be improved.

“We are encouraged by the feedback received to date and the level of interest it has garnered from the local community. We also look forward to engaging with those attending the live event on October 7.

“We will review all feedback from this first round of consultation after October 15 so we would urge anyone interested to visit to view the current plans, see what has changed, and share their thoughts ahead of this date.

“The consultation is ongoing until the end of the year and will be an iterative process with the community.”

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