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Complaint lodged with the Ombudsman regarding maladministration by North Lanarkshire Council - the approval is based on outdated estimates of housing needs and land supply, and several new windfall brownfield sites have become available recently.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.
CONSIDERATION OF PUBLIC PETITION PE 1112
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
considered by the Public
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?
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 Chief.Executive@northlan.gov.uk , to have your say.
Our own Community forum is a good place to share ideas or volunteer
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?
More complaints - from just one Wimpey estate
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
Feb 2007 - very incomplete draft local plan is published, with good and bad parts - now for a lengthy consultation.
Jan 2007 - as the New Year dawns, we still await the delayed new District Plan from North Lanarkshire Council, which will let us know whether we have to take this fight on to yet another Inquiry, or maybe two. The key issue at stake is the preservation of the Green belt - currently this protects Cavalry Park from development and has helped us win two full reporters inquiries. Meanwhile, new flooding breaches the Lade and again threatens Kilsyth town centre, demonstrating the folly of building houses on this raised peat bog.
March 2006 - Wimpey submits another planning application to fill virtually the whole of Cavalry Park with detached houses, most of which will be priced well over £200,000 - Kilsyth Community Council holds a well-attended open public meeting and votes, once again, to reject the bid. Wimpey decides to put the application on hold, presumably awaiting their "lobbying" on the new District Plan which is being prepared. The battleground is now the Plan itself - is it for local people or the developers? History inclines us to be pessimistic - North Lanarkshire Council has not listened to us sympathetically in the past......to their cost.
Feb 2006: In the UK, the George Wimpey operations saw turnover of £2.2bn and operating profits of £278m - and yet they are still moaning that there is a shortage of new green belt land releases. Pull another one!
June 2005 - The Reporter recommends to Ministers that Wimpey's application be refused: Victory! A fantastic result for the campaigners, for common sense, for the environment, the Green belt and the planning process itself. But there is absolutely nothing in law stopping Wimpey, a company that makes hundreds of millions of pounds a year profits from shoddily-built identikit houses, from coming back to try their luck again. The new local plan now becomes the key battleground - ensuring that our elected Councillors and greedy land developers respect our democratic will to retain green spaces between our towns and villages for recreation, wildlife and farming. North Lanarkshire has vast swathes of derelict brownfield land - the developers must take the responsibility of cleaning them up before despoiling the few remaining unspoiled acres for profit.
May 2005 Standards Commission investigates and fails to uphold complaint about the possible misconduct of Councillor Tom Barrie
Feb 2005 - following a full five day public enquiry held at the Coachman Hotel, the Reporter retires to consider the evidence presented by all parties.
23rd March 2004 - now it goes to the Scottish Executive. Following a tightly argued case put forward by community representatives, North Lanarkshire Council and Cllr Tom Barrie supported Wimpey Homes bid to wreck the Colzium by a huge margin despite the fact that this runs right against their own Local and Regional Plan and the recent decision to retain the green belt by the Reporter! Read the minutes of the meeting and find out who the heroes and villains were.
Scottish Parliament Motion submitted: *S2M-860# Margaret Mitchell: Development of Cavalry Park, Supported by: Mr Ted Brocklebank, Mrs Nanette Milne, Phil Gallie, Ms Sandra White, Mary Scanlon, Carolyn Leckie, Robin Harper, Shona Baird, Chris Ballance, Tommy Sheridan, Frances Curran, Donald Gorrie, Mr Brian Monteith, Dr Jean Turner, John Swinburne, Bill Aitken, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton—That the Parliament notes with concern the proposals for a housing development in the historic Cavalry Park in Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire; .......... and, in light of this, believes that North Lanarkshire Council or the Scottish Executive, or both, should reject any planning application to develop the site.
2nd Feb 2004 Committee paper published, planners support application
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 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
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: JonesD@northlan.gov.uk , to voice your objections to this proposal ever going ahead.