Plans to develop an industrial estate on fields between Livingston and the village of Seafield have gone to appeal with the Scottish Government.
Hallam Land Management and Rosebery Estates saw their proposals to develop the open fields at Cousland Farm rejected by West Lothian Council’s Development Management Committee in August.
Councillors backed a motion from Bathgate’s Willie Boyle, rejecting the plans and supporting the 38 objectors, including local community councils.
If the Cousland Farm plans are supported by the Scottish Government Reporter, Seafield village will eventually be surrounded by light industrial units and the maturation warehouses of a hugely expanded Glen Turner distillery – a development which also won on appeal to the Scottish Government.
The farmland has been designated for light industrial use in the council’s own Local Development Plan, (LDP) but after a site visit in early August few were keen to see the 61 acre site paved over.
Fields of ripening barley rolled a golden carpet across the land towards a wooded glen and the banks of the River Almond.
Committee chair, Councillor Stuart Borrowman told the meeting at the time: “I don’t sense anyone’s heart is in this today. “
The open fields appear just past the Toll roundabout on the north-western fringe of Livingston.
The chair of Seafield Community Council Damian Byrne said the development would “completely ruin the rural atmosphere” of the village and its views, from open fields to urban landscape.
He described the creation of a “doughnut of dereliction” in Livingston with a centre or hollowed out brownfield sites and all new build on the edge of town.
He told the DMC in August the Local Development Plan was so full of ambiguities and contradictions: “You’d be forgiven for thinking it was Boris Johnson who wrote it.”
Mr Byrne said that the LDP said brownfield sites should be considered before greenfield sites and added: “ This where you as a committee will be tested today”.
Councillor Boyle backed the objectors and questioned the need for new development when large industrial areas in Livingston and across West Lothian are lying empty and many are semi derelict.
He told the August hearing which eventually voted down the plan: “The idea that we desperately need this development site in a greenfield site I have great difficulty with.
“The reality is there is vacant property, there’s vacant sites. We have no shortage of vacant sites that can be developed.
“Freeport [a disused retail ‘village’ at West Calder] is sitting there and sitting empty.
“I have serious concerns.”