Jobs and tourism boost
Scottish Enterprise has reached an agreement which could lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds in investment on the banks of Loch Lomond.
The economic development agency has been in talks with Lomond Banks, a subsidiary of tourism firm Flamingo Land Ltd, since the withdrawal of a previous planning application for the redevelopment of the brownfield site adjoining the River Leven at Balloch.
Refreshed plans for the riverside destination will be drawn up to bring up to 200 tourism and hospitality jobs once the site is complete, as well as significant numbers in the construction phase.
The intention is to have visitor accommodation and walkways sympathetic to the local environment, with public access maintained throughout the site. The development will also provide learning and training opportunities for staff and will create links to local schools and colleges.
While the company does run a theme park in Yorkshire, there are not – and never have been – any plans to bring either rollercoasters or flamingos to Lomond Banks and suggestions otherwise were completely unfounded and untrue.
Scottish Enterprise’s Allan McQuade said: “The plans for Lomond Banks present a really timely positive news story for the local economy but also for tourism in Scotland, both of which have suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic.
“This development will bring much needed employment and investment to the area, while maintaining the integrity of the local environment.”
He added: “There were never any intentions to create a theme park at Lomond Banks and rumours to that effect were not based in fact, and the developers will continue to ensure that there is full consultation with the local community.
“Scottish Enterprise has a responsibility to bring quality jobs and economic opportunity, but also to sustainability, the fight against climate change and building places for communities.
“These factors are central to everything we do, and we look forward to seeing them play a huge part in the future development of Lomond Banks.”
The news comes as the local tourism sector attempts to recover from the impact of restrictions and closures as a result of the Covid pandemic.
VisitScotland’s Regional Leadership Director (West), Jim Clarkson, said: “Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park is a huge draw for visitors to the west of Scotland, so we welcome news of significant jobs and investment planned for the area, after such a challenging year. The Coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry and has changed the lives of people right across the country.
“Our priority is to use this opportunity to reset tourism in a responsible way. We want to work with communities to ensure that visitors and locals can both have a fantastic experience when tourism starts to rebuild itself.
“Any development in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park would need to take into account the sensitive nature of the outstanding natural environment of the area, as well as any concerns raised by the local community.
“Tourism is a force for good and has a part to play in not just providing jobs and economic benefits to every corner of Scotland but also bringing benefits to wellbeing and society, both vitally important following the impact of the pandemic.”
The arrangement follows on from the expiry of the previous Exclusivity Agreement between the two parties, which allowed the developer time to carry out necessary site investigations without Scottish Enterprise entering into negotiations with other parties.
This was signed in 2016 after a two-year campaign by SE to secure a developer who would fulfil the joint ambitions of SE and the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Parks Authority for a tourist attraction on the site.
The new agreement – a conditional missive – will, when finalised, oblige Scottish Enterprise to selling the land to the company upon the successful completion of the planning process.
The company’s CEO Gordon Gibb said: "Lomond Banks recognises there were misunderstandings around the previous plans and are keen that we take this opportunity to engage and work with the community to deliver a world class tourist attraction which is extremely sensitive to the surrounding area.
“We wish to reassure the community that there has never been a proposal to develop a theme park or indeed a roller coaster."