Town centre must be “more than a glorified supermarket car park” – Jo


Jo has said the redevelopment of Bishopbriggs Town Centre must have the best interests of the Community at heart.

At a meeting of Bishopbriggs Community Council on Monday, Muse Developments laid out their current plans for the development of Bishopbriggs Town Centre, including the possibility of bringing two new supermarkets to the area.

A statement from Jo was read out at the meeting, emphasising the need for community consultation at every stage of the planning process.

Following an agreement last month that Muse would include a community facility in its plans, to provide meeting rooms, a community café and office space, the Community Council appointed four ‘Community Champions’ to consult with Muse and ensure the community’s needs are met. The four champions are Ruth Box of Woodhill Evangelical Church, Sub-postmaster John Dickson, Pat McBride of Wester Cleddens Residents Group and Donald MacDonald of Woodhill Residents Group. The champions’ group will be chaired by Dominic Notarangelo, Chair of Bishopbriggs Community Council.

Muse expects to have a detailed planning application ready by early spring.

Commenting, Jo said:

“The important thing now is to ensure that the proposed community facility is built, and that it happens at the same time as the rest of the development. I welcome the decision to appoint community champions to see this through and I’m sure the four individuals chosen will do an excellent job.

“We must ensure that no plans are approved by the Council which do not have the best interests of the community at heart. Bishopbriggs town centre deserves more than to be a glorified supermarket car park.”

The text of Jo’s submission to the meeting appears below.

Mr Tom Dibble

Bishopbriggs Community Council

Secretary

41 Brackenbrae Road

Bishopbriggs

G64 2EX

Our ref: MM/JS9124 11 January 2010

Bishopbriggs Town Centre

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to express my opinions on the future of Bishopbriggs Town Centre at your meeting tonight. Unfortunately, Parliamentary business prevents me from being at the meeting in person but I hope you will accept this letter as my contribution.

In February 2008, I published the results of my survey of local people regarding the redevelopment of Bishopbriggs Town Centre. The overwhelming majority responded in favour of an improvement to the current situation.

Local people want to see quality retail outlets, a long-stay car park in the Town Centre and, crucially, the retention of the sports hall in the grounds of the former Bishopbriggs Academy on South Crosshill Road to provide space for community activities in the heart of the town. These aspirations should not be seen as unrealistic or optimistic, and it is vital that those responsible for planning and delivering change do so with the needs of local people foremost in their minds.

The plans shown to local elected representatives by Muse in March last year were, in my opinion, uninspiring and not in the interests of local people. These original plans included the demolition of the sports hall to accommodate the building of a massive new supermarket and its car park as the focal point of Bishopbriggs. This lacks any kind of exciting vision for the kind of town centre that local people want. For an improved retail offer, new retail units could be provided to create a more diverse retail offer, the existing Morrisons could be extended, or a new store could be built; all of these options could be pursued while still retaining the sports hall, and creating a town centre that truly functions as a hub for the community.

Thankfully, a condition was put forward at a Council Planning Board meeting in October by my colleague, Provost Eric Gotts, which would prevent Muse demolishing the hall before detailed plans have been approved. However, this was only a temporary reprieve as last month, Councillors agreed to drop that condition on the basis that Muse would have to promise to provide alternative community facilities if the sports hall is knocked down.

East Dunbartonshire Council must stand firm and prevent Muse from wriggling out of their obvious and considerable responsibility to the community. Community consultation is key in this process and whenever I have dealt with Muse, I have made clear how strongly local people feel about this. The development of Bishopbriggs Town Centre has to be handled sensitively with the needs of local people at heart.

Many thanks again for inviting comment from me tonight. I will continue to stand up strongly for local people and will fight for the best possible outcome for Bishopbriggs Town Centre. I urge you all to stand up for your community’s wishes and make your views heard at every opportunity. As ever, if I can be of any assistance to you as your Member of Parliament on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Swinson MP


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