FOCUS ON FITZPATRICK TO DELIVER THE PROMISE TO STEEL FAMILIES AS FUTURE OF NORTH LANARKSHIRE ON THE LINE
CROSS-PARTY CHORUS AND COUNCIL CALL FOR MINSTER TO REJECT TRANSPORT HUB AND DELIVER RAVENSCRAIG MASTERPLAN NEARLY 31 YEARS AFTER STEELWORKS CLOSURE –
PLANNING APPEAL ‘CALLED IN’ BY SCOTTISH MINISTERS
Ravenscraig Community Action Group (RCAG), fostering families, community and sustainable place making at the heart of one of Europe’s largest urban transformation programmes, has today (Friday 14th April) called on Scottish Government Planning Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP to reject a controversial last-ditch appeal by Russell Group for a ‘dirty diesel transport hub’ on a site zoned for over a thousand new homes on one of Europe’s largest brownfield regeneration sites.
The call, backed by North Lanarkshire Council, Scottish Labour, Scottish National Party, Scottish Green and Scottish Conservative politicians, comes after Russell Group submitted a planning appeal to Scottish Government for their controversial transport hub, thrown out by North Lanarkshire Council in December 2022.
Coming ahead of a cross-party congress called by Ravenscraig Community Action Group and North Lanarkshire Council leaders on 28th April, Scottish Planning Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP yesterday (Thursday 13th April) ‘called in’ the application, meaning he will now determine it himself as opposed to planning officials.
The controversial plans, opposed by Scottish Labour, Scottish National Party, Scottish Green and Scottish Conservative politicians, were the subject of circa 700 objections to North Lanarkshire Council in 2022. Council planners found that the proposal was wholly incompatible with the Ravenscraig Masterplan, Development Plan, Local Plan and National Planning Frameworks 3 & 4 and the application was rejected resoundingly by fifty-eight councillors from all parties.
Speaking at North Lanarkshire Council’s December’s full council meeting, Russell Group committed not to appeal the decision to Scottish Ministers, stating:
“From a John G Russell perspective we’ve been through this process. We’ve invested a lot of time, and money, and we are looking for an outcome today from this process. We will not be going to appeal. It will be today or not and, if its not, our investment will go to Hillington and our current Coatbridge site.”
With three months to lodge an appeal following a planning determination, Russell Group chose less than 24 hours before the window closed to submit their appeal to Scottish Government, with no engagement with local stakeholders.
Ryan O’Donnell, Chair of the Ravenscraig Community Action Group, said:
“As one of Europe’s one of Europe’s largest urban transformation programmes, Ravenscraig is of national significance.
“Ravenscraig has a bright future, attracting investment to date in remediation, new roads, rail enhancements and active travel; in New College Lanarkshire; Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility, a new £3.7m public park, retail, a restaurant a thriving community of new and social homes. Next steps investment is gathering pace, with new home building underway; with plans for new schools, a community hub, new retail, new housing and light industrial uses. Ravenscraig is moving forward, not back.
“Now two-decades of planned progress and investment and the future of Motherwell and North Lanarkshire is at stake with the push of a Scottish Government pen. With a chorus of cross-party opposition by North Lanarkshire Council, Scottish Labour, Scottish National Party, Scottish Green and Scottish Conservative politicians, the focus is firmly on Scottish Government Planning Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP ahead of 28th April to signal the end of the line for the controversial Russell Group plans and deliver the promise to steel families.
“The promise made to a generation of steel workers was to build a cleaner, better future for their sons and daughters, grand sons and daughters, now great grandchildren and the families who will follow. Now, at one the most critical point since the closure of the steelworks in 1992, the SNP Scottish Government must reject this proposal once and for all and commit to supporting the Masterplan.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Scottish Government Planning Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, ‘called in’ ‘the application on Thursday 13th April 2023, meaning he will now determine it himself as opposed to planning officials.
- The move comes after Ravenscraig Community Action Group, Provost Councillor Kenneth Duffy, Council Leader Jim Logue and Deputy Leader Paul Kelly invited local and regional MSPs, MP and councillors to a cross-party briefing and strategy discussion to be held at 10:00 Hrs on Friday 28th April 2023 at North Lanarkshire Council, Civic Centre, Motherwell.
- The meeting will feature a briefing, strategy discussion, photocall and an invitation for elected members to sign a pledge to support the delivery of the Ravenscraig Masterplan, including new and affordable homes, new schools, community facilities, light industry and sustainable travel.
- Speaking at December’s committee, RCAG said that North Lanarkshire deserves better and urged Russell Group to reflect, recognising that rail hubs have an important role to play in Scotland’s future, but they require sustainable sites in suitable locations.
- Russell Group, as North Lanarkshire’s planning report recognised, closes off a pipeline of investment and consigns Motherwell to trajectory where a heavy industrial mammoth the size of seven regional sports facilities, 36m high, operating 24 hours a day dominates our communities.
- 800m trains and over 800 Heavy Goods Vehicles movements a day in phase one alone, tearing through the heart of our communities, past our homes, schools, businesses and community facilities.
- North Lanarkshire Council Labour Provost Councillor Kenneth Duffy has written to local parliamentarians, who registered objections to the original application, demanding they make urgent representations with Scottish Government Ministers to throw out the appeal. He said “the campaign against the initial application was spearheaded by Ravenscraig Community Action Group supported by a cross party collection of MSPs, MPs and councillors. This bipartisan approach was well received by residents who felt encouraged observing party politics cast aside for the good of the community.
“Local parliamentarians made public objections to the application before it came before council, I have asked they now speak with party colleagues in government to reiterate those views.
“If the Scottish Government want to resolve democratic deficits, they should set the example by allowing local democracy to flourish and putting an end to these unwelcome interventions.”
- Motherwell and Wishaw SNP MSP Clare Adamson said: “I am disappointed that the developers have lodged an appeal at the last possible moment – having committed not to do so when the matter came before council.
“I formally objected to this proposal back in April 2021 having listened to residents and met with the Ravenscraig Community Action Group, the developers, and local authority officials. I worked with my colleague, Marion Fellows MP, over concerns around the accessibility of the initial consultation process in 2020.
“The fundamental issues remain unchanged. This proposal is a complete departure from the Ravenscraig masterplan. The people who have made Ravenscraig their home bought into a vision of a regenerated residential community.
“This development would irreparably alter the character of that community and, on that basis, the local authority rightly rejected these plans. The appeal is a judicial process and it is now a matter for the Scottish Government’s reporter.
“But I trust the reporter will be cognisant of the overwhelming response from residents, the council’s definitive rejection and the detrimental and irreversible impact that this development would have on Ravenscraig. In practice, it would cease to be a community but instead become an industrial site.
- Central Scotland Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who has written to Scotland’s new planning minister calling on Scottish Government to reject the appeal, added: “This proposal has already been rejected by North Lanarkshire Council following significant pressure from local residents. “It’s time for the new community Lanarkshire was promised with schools and local amenities, not massive industrial buildings and 800 dirty diesel HGV’s passing by a number of schools in the town 24 hours a day.”
- Scottish Conservative MSP, Meghan Gallacher, added: “This really isn’t on. In North Lanarkshire alone, roughly 40% of planning applications rejected by the Council have been overturned by the Scottish Government reporter. Ravenscraig and the Council said ‘NO’ to the proposed rail hub – the reporter must listen.”
- Scottish Conservative Councillor Nathan Wilson, has also written to the Scottish Government, outlining the threat to future investment, stating: “For the future of Ravenscraig and the people who have made the area their home, the correct course of action is a rejection of this appeal.”
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