Blow for Falkirk Council revamp schemes
A local authority has suffered a major blow to two long-running community regeneration projects after the developers pulled out.
Falkirk Council said it had ended an agreement with Henry Boot over the revamp of Denny town centre.
And banking giant ING has been dropped as the developer of the harbour and foreshore area of Bo'ness.
The council said it was committed to new plans for Denny, but the harbour regeneration had been suspended.
Both developers blamed their failure to continue the projects on the economic downturn.
ING's proposals for the regeneration of Bo'ness waterfront were first made in February 2005, and the revamp of Denny has been delayed since 2004.
Campaigners in Denny have complained fiercely about the repeated delays, with protests focusing on the crumbling 1960s Church Walk blocks.
Work began on the demolition of the blocks in August and Falkirk Council said it would continue.
The council said it had made a "major commitment" to "ambitious plans" for the town. The authority has set aside £6.5m to provide new retail units, a new library, a new town square and more parking.
Craig Martin, leader of Falkirk Council said: "Denny has waited too long for this redevelopment and if the market cannot deliver this project, Falkirk Council will.
"We regret that our agreement with Henry Boot Developments has had to be ended. We both tried extremely hard to make this scheme work and spent long hours with the community to finalise our design.
"However, the economic conditions have been so severe it has not been possible to deliver as we had planned."
But the council's decision to end the contract has been questioned by campaigners in the town, who called it "another bad day for Denny".
Brian McCabe, a member of Denny Community Council, said "They told us that Henry Boot's great plan was the only way forward - we've been told that for the last four to five years.
"But now we're told by the councillor in charge they've always wanted get rid of Henry Boot. It's a complete about face."
Mr McCabe said residents had not been consulted over the new proposals and accused councillors of "political chicanery" ahead of the elections next year.
The setbacks to the Denny and Bo'ness regeneration plans were revealed at a full meeting of Falkirk Council.
Councillors heard that on the Bo'ness harbour project, developers ING had been unable to make further progress because of the recession.
The original plans included a revitalised Victorian dock and harbour area with new homes, restaurants and boating facilities.
Adrian Mahoney, the council's development and economic strategy convener, said: "Clearly it's very disappointing that ING has been unable to progress this scheme at this time.
"The council allowed for re-phasing of the project and an extension to timescales. Sadly, ING was unable to progress its plans and start work on site.
"The council has, therefore, sadly decided to terminate their agreement with the company, but to revisit the harbour project when market conditions pick up."
A spokesman for ING real estate development said the company had spent "significant amounts of money and time" in trying to make the scheme work.
"Since 2004, ING has demonstrated its commitment to the successful regeneration of the Bo'ness foreshore however the unprecedented prevailing economic conditions mean that we are disappointingly unable to continue as developer on the scheme," he said.
"We wish the community of Bo'ness and Falkirk Council well with their continued efforts to regenerate the town and foreshore."