Ravenscraig’s for families, not freightliners as a near three-year David and Goliath battle ends as Scottish Government rejects an appeal by Russell Group.

The decision, announced today (Tuesday 17th October 2023), confirms that Scottish Ministers have accepted the report by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division of Scottish Government to refuse the appeal.  The decision is final, subject to the right of the applicant to seek a rarely used judicial review on a point of law only.

The decision to refuse the appeal by Scottish Planning Minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, follows rejection of the application by North Lanarkshire Council in December 2022 and a near three-year cross-party campaign by the Ravenscraig Community Action Group (RCAG).  It also follow’s an earlier broken promise by Russell Group not to lodge an appeal following refusal by North Lanarkshire Council.

In thanking local communities, businesses and cross-party politicians, Fiona Morrison, Vice-Chair of the Ravenscraig Community Action Group, said:

“Nearly three years ago, Russell Group thought this was a deal done behind closed doors.  North Lanarkshire communities, businesses, councillors, and a chorus of cross-party MSPs said that wasn’t so.

“With the future of Ravenscraig and Motherwell on the line, we couldn’t let Russell Group, Ravenscraig Ltd and a speculative development cast aside two decades of planned progress and investment by North Lanarkshire Council, Scottish & UK Governments.

“This is an important win for Ravenscraig and people-powered political campaigns.  It’s a reminder that good people can do great things in their own communities.  But our win is also a warning to Ravenscraig Limited, public and private developers more broadly that best practice place-making demands genuine engagement and inclusion for communities as areas grown and develop.  We won’t stand for imposed development.

“It’s time now for Russell Group to confirm the end of the line for their plans.  Progressive place making happens by choice, not chance and we urge Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Ravenscraig Ltd, North Lanarkshire Council and others to join with Ravenscraig Community Action Group in a new community development group to deliver the Ravenscraig Promise.”

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.

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 2022 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 2022 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, would have closed 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.

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