Scottish Parliamentarians from the SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Greens have called on Scotland’s Planning Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, to reject a controversial planning appeal for a transport hub that would see 800 HGVs travel through Motherwell and surrounding villages each day.
Following a successful cross-party congress hosted at North Lanarkshire Council’s civic HQ in May, members of the Ravenscraig Community Action Group took their fight to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh last week in an event hosted by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon and Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay. The event was attended by over a fifth of Parliamentarians, from across Scotland.
The group, which is committed to the delivery of the Ravenscraig Masterplan, backed by North Lanarkshire Council, Scottish and UK Governments, called on Scottish Government to back the recently launched Ravenscraig Promise, and reject a speculative appeal on land zoned for housing by Russell Group to Scottish Ministers.
‘The Ravenscraig Promise’ is a mini-manifesto for best practice place making, delivering the Ravenscraig Masterplan, realising the 1,000 new homes, schools and community facilities for the site, supporting local business whilst attracting appropriate commercial and light industrial employment.
Fiona Morrison, Vice-Chair of the Ravenscraig Community Action Group, said:
“Across local communities, North Lanarkshire Council and now Scotland’s Parliament, the cross-party chorus of opposition to Russell Group’s plans that would scar the Motherwell skyline for generations is deafening.
“SNP, Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservative and Scottish Green Parliamentarians from all across Scotland rallied round our cause, backing the Ravenscraig Promise and calling on SNP Planning Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP to reject the proposal already thrown out North Lanarkshire Council last Christmas.
“With the future of North Lanarkshire and two decades of planned progress at Ravenscraig on the line, it’s time for this appeal to be rejected and for Ravenscraig to again look forward, not back.”
Scottish Labour MSP, Monica Lennon, said:
“It was a privilege to co-host Ravenscraig Community Action Group in the Scottish Parliament, and I am delighted that so many MSPs pledged their support for the residents.
“The Ravenscraig Promise is a better plan for the area than the Russell Group’s damaging development.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government recognise the strength of opposition to the Russell Group’s plans, and work with Ravenscraig Community Action Group to deliver the promises made to a generation of steelworkers and their families.”
Scottish Green MSP, Gillian MacKay, said:
“Co-hosting the Ravenscraig Community Action Group at the Scottish Parliament was a great opportunity for politicians from all parties to signal their support for the Ravenscraig Promise and its positive vision for the future.
“I stand resolute in my opposition to the proposed Russell Group development at Ravenscraig and I have written to the Minister to voice my concerns. It’s now time for Ravenscraig Ltd, North Lanarkshire Council and Scottish and UK Government’s to work with local communities to sustainably transform this iconic urban environment with new homes, schools, amenities and appropriate employment.”
Cross-Party Opposition to Russell Group Application:
Speaking previously, Scottish Conservative, Meghan Gallacher MSP, said:
“I am absolutely delighted to continue my support for Ravenscraig Community Action Group and to add my signature to the Ravenscraig Promise.
“It is imperative that across the political spectrum we come together to ensure that families and the community are placed front and centre of any future development plans for Ravenscraig. We must continue to listen to their voices.”
Speaking previously, 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.”
Ravenscraig Community Action Group:
· Ravenscraig Community Action Group (RCAG) is a community group fostering families, community and sustainable place making at the heart of one of Europe’s largest urban transformation programmes.
The Ravenscraig Promise:
· Recognise the promise made to a generation of steel workers to build a cleaner, better, brighter and more sustainable future for their sons and daughters, grand sons and daughters, now great grandchildren and the families who will follow.
· Recognise the national significance of Ravenscraig as one of Europe’s largest and most ambitious urban transformation programmes.
· Recognise that nationally significant urban transformation programmes require appropriate investment from the United Kingdom Government and Scottish Government.
· Recognise the importance of delivering the Ravenscraig masterplan, with mixed-use development in line with National Planning Policy Framework 4 and the North Lanarkshire Local Development Plan; protecting land zoned for housing and community uses; encouraging community facilities, appropriate development of employment land whilst protecting safe routes to school and sustainable travel.
· Recognise the importance of new and affordable homes at Ravenscraig, built on land zoned for housing.
· Recognise and commit to supporting the development of a new Community Hub for Ravenscraig, Denominational and Non-Denominational Primary Schools within Ravenscraig.
· Recognise and commit to supporting low carbon, multi-modal transport for Ravenscraig.
· Support a Ravenscraig fit for Families, not Freightliners : Committing to oppose rail the development of Rail Freight Distribution at Ravenscraig and calling on Scottish Government to reject Russell Group’s appeal.
· Recognise the important role of public, private, third sector and community collaboration in the development of the Ravenscraig community and, where appropriate, community benefits from development opportunities.
· Recognise the importance of best practice place making, supporting meaningful community engagement, information exchange, consultation and multi-stakeholder participation in a quarterly liaison group.
· Recognise and support the development of North Lanarkshire SME’s within Ravenscraig.
The Russell Group Appeal:
· 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.”
· The 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 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.