Lawyers acting for the Antonine Centre in Cumbernauld have demanded North Lanarkshire Council delay taking a decision on development plans for the out-of-town Westway shopping centre.
The law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, acting for Bridges Antonine LLP, claim the council has made serious mistakes dealing with the plans, which they say threaten the future of Cumbernauld town centre.
Councillors will decide whether to give the go ahead for a major cinema and retail development on Thursday.
The application from Dutch-based Promontoria Holdings is seeking planning permission in principle for a major development at Castlecary Way in Westway Retail Park.
If the application is granted, councillors will have agreed for the site to potentially be used as a venue for various leisure and retail businesses, such as hotels, shops and restaurants although precise detail are yet to be determined.
Council officers are recommending that the committee grants the application and it is widely supported by the public.
Of 95 public comments published on the council website, 94 are supporting the application and nobody objected.
Cumbernauld Village resident Pat Churches said: “Having lived in Cumbernauld for nearly 50 years this is one of the best things that could happen, a joined-up, bright, open leisure/shopping space. It will put Cumbernauld on the map for all the right reasons, it will be visible from the M80 that will increase footfall.”
Catherine Train of Seafar added: “The town of Cumbernauld needs a development of this nature to provide much needed facilities for the next generation of residents.”
Julie Fleming of Blackwood said: “Using this space as a destination venue will in my opinion bring jobs, and additional leisure facilities mean less travelling (with similar venues across the central belt taking over an hour on public transport to reach) an environmental positive.”
However, Hamcap (Cumbernauld) LLP, owners of Cumbernauld Shopping Centre, has objected due to the threat to the health and vitality of the town centre, while the Health and Safety Executive raised concerns on safety grounds due to the proximity to the William Grants & Sons site, although it stopped short of officially objecting the firm itself has.
The letter from Shepherd and Wedderburn says the council has ignored rules which state applications like Westway require a full assessment of the impact of the specific plans on town centres.
They argue the only impact assessment carried out looked at different plans dating back to 2014 and say the latest plans are contrary to Scottish planning policy, the Strategic Development Plan and North Lanarkshire Local Development Plan, all of which rule out shopping developments which adversely affect town centres.
Tom Tyler, investment director of Bridges Fund Management, said: “It’s regrettable we must challenge the authority’s planning officers in this way, but we cannot stand idly by as serious mistakes have been made in assessing the Westway application.
“Nor can we shirk from our duty to support our stakeholders, which ironically includes North Lanarkshire Council who own the ground on which the town centre is built and as such receive a proportion of the rent paid by tenants in the centre.
“It is entirely inappropriate to ask council members to determine a flawed committee report like this. The only proper solution is for planning officers to withdraw their report and ask the applicants to provide a retail impact assessment for their current application.
“Once that work is completed this matter should then go to the planning committee for determination. We also want to put on the record that we wish to have our say at that meeting on behalf of all of all of our stakeholders.”
Bridges stressed it is are supportive of plans proposed by Hamcap for the town centre, just not those which would draw trade away.