Save Cavalry Park from Wimpey Homes Campaign

New: See also: Wimpey poor standards: "TWELVE other properties on our development have suffered water leaks"

For over twenty-five years, people in Kilsyth have been fighting tenaciously to save Cavalry Park, a unique landscape and an integral part of the historic Colzium estate, from the greed of housing developers. We take issue with Wimpey Homes' plans: one sensible objection is that this area floods, and new housing would make the flooding much worse: Check out the recent video (June 2007) - this is the Stirling road just below Cavalry Park.

07 Feb 2008 Residents urged to contact their insurance companies with a view to securing the right for homeowners and insurance companies to be consulted about any contract with Wimpey regarding flood mitigation and defences - our houses border the property and we have the most to lose if the works are inadequate and defences fail.

06 Feb 2008 Complaint lodged with the Ombudsman regarding maladministration by North Lanarkshire Council - the approval is based on outdated estimates of housing needs and land supply, and several new windfall brownfield sites have become available recently.

31st Jan 2008 Rob Kay, standing as the Green Party candidate to raise the profile of the environment, gains third place in the local by-election, ahead of the Tories, Scottish Socialists and Lib-Dems. Cavalry Park is a key campaign issue.

scottish parliament logoCONSIDERATION OF PUBLIC PETITION PE  1112

A Petition by Robert Kay, calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to clarify the circumstances in which Scottish Ministers would not accept the decisions of a local planning inquiry and a public local inquiry, particularly in relation to housing developments on green belt land, such as that at Cavalry Park, Kilsyth.

This was considered by the Public Petitions Committee at its meeting on Tuesday 29 January 2008. The committee is currently conducting an investigation and calling for evidence from interested parties.

Dec 2007 North Lanarkshire Council Planning Committee votes to support Wimpey Homes bid to build 162 houses at Cavalry Park subject to a legal agreement about flood mitigation works.

November 2007 SNP Minister decides to send the application back to NLC for a decision

News (Summer 2007) Ministers continue to deliberate - further delays. Heavy flooding in June closes the Stirling Rd again.

News (Spring 2007) Planning officials recommend approval of the latest planning application, despite 70-odd objections, and the worthy Councillors vote yet again for Wimpey to send in the bulldozers, albeit with a much reduced majority. Both the officials and North Lanarkshire Councillors are impotent: it's the incoming SNP Minister (and the reporter) who will ultimately decide. Maybe Wimpey think it's a case of third time lucky? .But ever-hopeful Tom Barrie, newly-retired veteran Labour councillor, former Provost,  and one of only about three people left in Kilsyth who still supports Wimpey, has according to the Kilsyth Chronicle apparently already named the roads at Cavalry Park. There's nothing like blind optimism, is there?

News (3rd Feb 2007 ) NLC publishes their consultation draft local plan - read it here Lots of good environmental policies and principles, but the review of the Green Belt is still going on. Are all the fine words and aspirations worth the paper they are written on, or will it be another case of "public virtues, private vices" ? It'll be at least another year before we really find out whether NLC has learned their lesson and lost the will to fight, but clearly Wimpey are prepared for siege tactics to protect their £750,000 investment in a useless (for housing anyway) bog, not counting their mounting design and consultancy fees to - amongst others - former senior NLC council planning officials, otherwise why build the huge new fence below?

Cavalry Park stays in the listing of potential housing supply sites despite two reporters rulings, but with 10% of urban space in North Lanarkshire designated as derelict and vacant is hard to see how consent could ever be granted for housing given the other fine policies about sustainability etc..

News (29 Jan 2007) : Fence erection - The resident buzzard seems to enjoy having a new roost! But what is Wimpey up to - this is high enough to be a deer fence - or are they planning to keep protestors out?

Buzzard at Cavalry Park, Colzium  new fence divides Colzium from Cavalry Park  Buzzard moved into Cavalry Park when I got closer!

News mid-Jan 2007:  See the impact of flooding over the Lade onto Cavalry Park  "A wall of floodwater was crashing over the embankment towards our homes" - eye witness.

Q: What can I do about it? Please email , to have your say.

Our own Community forum is a good place to share ideas or volunteer

Roe deer at Cavalry Park Kilsyth May 2006 RK buzzard flying over Cavalry Park, Kilsyth roe deer at cavalry park heron at cavalry park - upper left

Roe deer, kestrels, buzzards and herons are amongst the many exciting wildlife attractions of this unique site.

Site updated: 07/02/2008

View over the heart of Cavalry Park (marked on the map within the green square) to the Kilsyth hills. Wrecking this view is worth at least £12M profit to developers. To us, Cavalry Park is simply beyond price.  Photo taken from the the middle of the  "S" in Kilsyth on the map. Cavalry Park is the grassland section in the middle of the picture, and Colzium House is in the trees.

Still have doubts?

Think we cant beat Wimpey? - think again, the highly effective Shrub Hill campaign in Edinburgh achieved just that.

Shrub Place PR 31 Aug 2004  Wimpey Homes Scotland concedes and walks away.

Wimpey, whose option to buy Shrub Place expired at the end of August, have decided to cut their losses and walk away from the deal.
Having spent five years on the project, Wimpey did not come up with a design for the £30m site that satisfied local campaigners and failed - despite several attempts - to win approval from either the Planning Committee or the subsequent Public Inquiry. The Inquiry decision is widely regarded as a landmark case that will help improve design standards throughout the industry. The campaigners are pleased that the Reporters' decision has set a precedent for similar development proposals across Scotland and the UK.

Cavalry Park - 2004- 2007 present campaign timeline

The superb landscape around Colzium has been formed over the past thousand years around the site of the ruined medieval castle, 18th Century Mansion, and fine country estate which were gifted to the people of Kilsyth in 1937 by the Lennox family. The ancient lime and beech avenues adjoining possibly the oldest purpose built curling pond in the world were planted around 150 years ago during the Victorian restoration of the house. This unique landscape now faces a serious and permanent threat from new housing.

OCTOBER 2003 - Planning application submitted by George Wimpey, West Scotland Ltd. to develop 160 housing units at Cavalry Park, Kilsyth. Photos below show the site on Saturday 11th October 2003. Whilst there is some ugly modern development quite near the site this scarcely detracts from the authentic 18th century parkland views which the walker, rider and motorist enjoys, and is not a justification for further desecration. The solution is to eliminate or beautify inappropriate modern development, not to create more of it!

Photogallery   All photos by Rob Kay, may be reproduced freely if acknowledged. 

Above - Cavalry Park from the Stirling Road - unimproved meadow and bog habitat provides perfect cover for deer and small mammals and supports many types of birdlife and bats Looking east along the Cavalry Burn - small fish, frogs, toads and newts abound and there is constant birdsong from the grasses and small trees
October colour at the north end of Cavalry Park is just beginning to paint the fern with a vibrant palette. View from the Covenanter garage path - open country with magnificent views of the ancient beech avenue and peat bog.
Prospect of Colzium House from the Couches shows the unspoiled harmony of Cavalry park meadow, house, ancient woods,  and distant Kilsyth hills. Sublime landscape - under threat ! View of historic Colzium House from Cavalry Park, through the beech avenue which borders the Lade (a 250 year old canal which feeds the Banton Loch and the Forth and Clyde canal)

Campaign details - planning history

Campaign action 1980 - 2004 - A twenty-five year siege by developers

4th Feb 2004 Committee votes to make site visit and to have a hearing.

2nd Feb 2004 Committee paper published, planners support application

17th Jan 2004 - KCC emails all members of the Planning Committee requesting support

4th Dec 2003  - NLC report on the development of Colzium House and Estate. To date the Department has secured £1,454,944 through ERDF Objective 2 Programme and £ 1,300,000 through the External Funding Group.

1st December 2003 - Kilsyth Community Council submits detailed response

29th October 2003 - Public meeting at Burngreen Hall, Overwhelming vote to oppose the development

15th October - Kilsyth Community Council meets at the Burngreen Hall to decide how to take the campaign forward. Responses have to be submitted by the end of November.

18th June 2003. NLC approves use of Cavalry Park as a "preferred site to meet the Structure Plan requirement" following SEPA review of flood risk. 

11 December 2002 NLC Planning Director David Porch removes Cavalry Park from preferred list of sites: but Committee defer decision for further reports.

October 2002 Test boring commences at Cavalry Park

August 2002 Kilsyth Community Council opposes inclusion of Cavalry Park in the Interim Statement on the main grounds that:

July 2002 : NLC Publishes Interim Housing Land statement - Draft consultation Paper - Cavalry Park included as Appendix VI - suitable for "130 - 160 houses"

2000,2001 - nothing of note happens, maybe they all hope we will all go away! But the folk who paid £750k for a useless bog at Cavalry Park are just biding their time....they want a return on their investment...

December 1999 Kilsyth Local Plan produced - opposes development of green belt for housing

26 October 1998 : Kilsyth Local Plan: Public Local Inquiry - Miss J M McNair reporter - concludes that "a development of the scale and extent which is proposed would be a very significant intrusion on the Green belt, even with structure planting".... "allocating this large site for housing cannot be justified in terms of this policy at this time. However, it has some factors in its favour and would remain for later consideration should the circumstances change".

1996 Kilsyth Local Plan finalised source

1980's/1990s : Kilsyth and Cumbernauld Council resists repeated attempts to develop Cavalry Park for housing

April 1983 Kilsyth Local Plan adopted source

Flooding risk: There are repeated reminders through history of violent flooding caused by the close proximity of the Kilsyth Hills. In these circumstances it becomes apparent why locals in the know have not favoured Cavalry Park for housebuilding - or any other purpose. To take just three recorded examples from many:

“In the year 1738, on the 27th of June, a very remarkable thunder storm took place. The morning was fair, the sky clear, the sun bright. About eleven a.m. a gleamy kind of darkness overspread the sky; a water-spout seems to have fallen; numberless torrents poured from the hills, sweeping houses, bridges, corn, and cattle all before them. Several acres in the valley were covered with stones of all sizes, from 20 tons to small gravel; in some places, from 4 to 6 feet deep”. (New Statistical Account 1841)

“In the year 1832, June 14th, we were visited with a similar waterspout and thunder storm, with hail, and torrents of rain. For two hours, the storm was truly terrific, and threatened awful devastation”. (New Statistical Account 1841)

November 1953: “Stirling County Council decided to seek compensation from the British Transport Commission, owners of the Forth and Clyde Canal, following heavy flooding at the temporary school in Stirling Rd., Kilsyth. A canal feeder from Banton Loch overflowed following heavy rain. The school was evacuated. Even the sewage system broke down. A second downpour flooded the town centre”. (Kilsyth Chronicle Nov 19th 2003, Flashback section)

The topography of the valley means that violent and sudden flooding of Cavalry Park is inevitable if the Lade (the canal feeder) becomes overwhelmed. There is certainly no defence possible against the thunderstorm of 1738 apart from leaving the valley bottom well alone, and the uncertainties of global warming mean that it is only a matter of time before major flooding occurs again.

August 1957: "A GALE and torrential rain over the weekend caused heavy flooding at Stirling Rd and Parkfoot St in Kilsyth. (Kilsyth Chronicle Aug 29th 2007, Flashback section)

New: (Jan 2007) See the impact of flooding over the Lade onto Cavalry Park below  this was following a relatively minor rainfall event.

Please email David Jones: , to voice your objections to this proposal ever going ahead.