THE applicants behind the £30million Lomond Banks development in Balloch have today announced that they have withdrawn the controversial plans.

Flamingo Land Ltd and Scottish Enterprise informed the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority that they collectively wish to withdraw the live planning application, which had faced continued opposition from politicians, environmental groups and local residents.

The decision comes after the National Park planning officers recommended the application be rejected in a published report which highlighted new concerns regarding the scale of proposals for the Pierhead and Drumkinnon Woods areas.

READ MORE: Flamingo Land Lomond Banks proposals recommended for rejection

A public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, September 24, at which a final decision was due to be made, has now been cancelled.

In a letter to the National Park from the applicants, they said they had hoped for a postponement of the hearing to allow "sufficient time to understand new concerns, provide additional information requested and consider the most appropriate course of action for all parties involved".

However, they have hit out at the National Park Authority for failing to reach a suitable compromise.

The letter adds: "In the event, officers have refused to accept the Applicants' concerns regarding the way in which officers have assessed certain critical sections of their environmental statement, refused to postpone the hearing to allow further time for the alleged deficiencies to be addressed, and refused the Applicants' publication request.

"In the light of those disappointing refusals and having given very careful consideration to their options, the Applicants have reluctantly decided that it is not only in theirs but also in the public interest that the Application is withdrawn, so that any remaining issues that the officers have with certain aspects of the environmental impact assessment can be addressed ahead of the Application being re-submitted."

READ MORE: Ross Greer delivers 'record number of objections' to Lomond Banks proposals

More than 56,000 objections were lodged from members of the public following a Scottish Green Party petition, led by MSP Ross Greer.

But the Lomond Banks applicants have suggested that "much of the objection levelled at the proposals is based on misinformation," a view shared by the Balloch and Haldane Community Council.

In a second letter, the applicants state that information released by the National Park Authority "does not properly reflect what the Applicants' assessment of what the impact of their proposed development on the ancient woodland actually is," while other statements are referred to as being "factually incorrect" and "misleading".

Helensburgh's MSP Jackie Baillie said she is not completely against development of the site, but welcomed today's announcement.

She said: "This is good news for local people. Flamingo Land’s planning application was rejected by thousands of local people who submitted objections and the overwhelming majority of people who approached me were opposed to the development due to the potential impact on the area.

“It was clear that Flamingo Land had little interest in ensuring local people’s voices were heard during the process and were dismissive of many of the views which were voiced.

“Tourism related development is welcome in Balloch, as long as it enhances the offering which is already in place in the village. My view is that the area deserves better.

“I hope that this will pave the way for a more sensitive development in the future.”

Andy Miller, director of Lomond Banks, said: “We’ve been working hard with all parties, including the National Park Authority, for more than two years to ensure all information relating to the proposed development was made readily available.

"We know the National Park recognises that the majority of what we propose fits in with the LDP (Local Development Plan).

READ MORE: Loch Lomond plans 'could spark land grab', say campaigners

"It is therefore surprising and disappointing that their recommendation report raises previously unidentified concerns and highlights the need for new additional information.

“Our priority now is to fully understand concerns, gather the necessary information and dispel some of the myths that continue to circulate around our ambitions for the site.

"It is only at this point, we will consider re-submitting our plans to ensure decision makers will be able to take a fully informed decision on this important application.”

A statement from the National Park Authority said: "Having allowed the applicants to submit additional information, a significant amount of time and resource then went into assessing this complex application and the preparation of a comprehensive report setting out the officer’s recommendation to refuse planning permission in principle.

"It is ultimately the applicants’ decision not to continue with this process.

"Development of any kind in the National Park is always carefully considered, balancing the need for development and community interests with the heritage and conservation of this special area.

"While land within this application site has been identified as suitable for tourism development, it is crucial that any new development protects the character of the existing landscape and the natural and built environment, while making a positive contribution to the area as an international tourism destination."

Allan McQuade, director of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Any proposed plan and investment of this scale must be considered from all angles and subsequent planning and investment decisions based on hard evidence and fact therefore it is only right that the current planning application be withdrawn to allow sufficient time for all parties to consider additional new information.

“As with previous developments at Loch Lomond, we understand people are concerned and our priority is to ensure that any development on the parcel of derelict land in Balloch is delivered in line with planning policy.”