The start of work on a long-delayed £1 billion development which will more than double the size of a Lothians village has been welcomed by residents.
The Winchburgh Development is now officially under way, heralding the creation of West Lothian’s sixth-largest town and what is believed to be Scotland’s largest urban renewal project.
Plans for the development were first mooted 12 years ago. The 15-year project will see the creation of 300 jobs per year in construction and 3450 new homes.
Raymond McCabe, chairman of Winchburgh Community Council, said: “We’re really quite happy now that the work has started – we got there eventually after all these years.
“Hopefully, we will see lots of benefits for the village, such as the new schools.
“But really its success will depend on if they can sell the houses, especially when you think that there is another big development going on at Kirkliston.
“But now that work is under way it is a step forward – we’ve waited long enough.”
Mr McCabe added that the community council would be having regular meetings with the developer to discuss the progress of the plans.
West Lothian Council’s executive councillor for development and transport, Cathy Muldoon, said: “The new housing, jobs, schools and community facilities will be of great benefit to local people.
“We look forward to working with the developers and the local community to make sure that the development is a success.”
The development is the result of a partnership between landowners and project managers Sigma Capital.
While it has been generally welcomed, there are still some concerns over what the scale of the project could mean for local residents.
Community council secretary Mary Miller said: “There is a fair bit of concern over the landfill site on the western boundary of the development.
“It has lain undisturbed for many years and residents are worried what will happen to the contents and if they could contaminate the area.
“So we would like reassurances on how the developers will deal with that.”
John Hamilton, director of Sigma Capital, said: “Already we are in negotiations with a number of major supermarket chains and commercial partners who see Winchburgh as an exciting and significant opportunity for growth.”
In the first phase of the project, 550 houses will be developed over the next five years, with Miller Homes and Barratt already contracted to start work on 180 of these this autumn.
Last year West Lothian Council forward funded an extension at Linlithgow Academy to provide additional school places for the first phase of the Winchburgh Development and this week the development will contribute £1.27 million to the council’s cost in extending the academy.
The Winchburgh Development has already paid £1m to the council for an extension and improvements to be provided at the Holy Family/Winchburgh Primary School buildings.