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Balmaha – thank you!

Last night, our Planners were in Balmaha to talk about the ideas and options for the area contained within our Main Issues Report.

The National Park Visitor Centre in Balmaha was jam packed last night with local folk – residents, business and landowners – all coming together to discuss how planning and development can help address the key challenges faced within this community.

The Buchanan Community Council area covers the area from Rowardennan, on the east side of Loch Lomond, down to Balmaha, Milton of Buchanan, Buchanan Smithy and Buchanan Castle Estate. It is a stunningly beautiful place to live and work and is very special to local people who are passionate and protective about keeping it special and ensuring that development does not erode or impact on the character of the area.

Visitor and tourism pressures are felt most strongly in Balmaha, a small community where local people feel as though they are being swamped by tourism development. Coupled with this is the steady loss of housing for local people as many homes in the community have been sold and are now used for second and holiday homes. This is impacting on the school roll which has declined over time.

At the meeting last night people raised issues around:

  • Better access links for walking and cycling between Balmaha and Drymen, also the need to encourage visitors to visit Balmaha without their car – such as via the Waterbus from Balloch or bus. The condition of infrastructure north of Balmaha needs attention – condition of the road, infrastructure for the Waterbus and West Highland Way.
  • Infrastructure – specifically water and sewerage capacity
  • The condition of the roads
  • Parking provision in Balmaha – some people felt that this is already at capacity (others disagreed) and questioned the impact of further development on this.
  • Housing –the proposed affordable housing site in Balmaha and whether additional land for housing may be required at Milton of Buchanan. Some concern was expressed over how the affordable housing would be retained in the future and not sold on the open market to end up being second or holiday homes.

Where does this leave us?

What was clear to us as Planners is that there is no straightforward solution to solving these issues, nor one that the whole community might agree on. We are suggesting that we all work together to prepare a framework to better plan for this special area and agree on development opportunities and constraints.

We’re keen to receive feedback from local people on this suggested approach and really want to encourage comments and views on this.

So, what do you think? You can tweet us, comment on our Facebook page, you can even text in your thoughts (to 07860 01 71 53).  We look forward to hearing from you.

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