A DECISION on plans for a new “leadership centre” on the shores of Loch Lomond is set to be made this Monday.

The plans by the Hunter Foundation were lodged with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority in March.

A decision is expected to be made by the authority’s planning committee on Monday, November 23 – but in a report out this week, planning officials recommended that the application be approved.

Concern has been raised by some residents at the proposals, for a site in the grounds of Ross Priory, near Gartocharn, while the local community council and West Dunbartonshire ward councillor Sally Page have lodged objections.

However the plans by the Foundation – set up by Scots businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter – have also attracted expressions of support from the University of Strathclyde, which owns Ross Priory, as well as the independent Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs conservation charity.

READ MORE: Concern at foundation's plan to develop historic Loch Lomond site

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Objectors’ concerns relate mostly to the potential impact of the facility on the surrounding environment and nearby wildlife.

When the plans were first lodged, fears were also raised around the potential for sewage discharge into the loch, though it’s understood that a compromise has been reached, with effluent set to be rerouted to the sewage works in Gartocharn.

Councillor Page said she was concerned at the number of projected major developments around Loch Lomond – including the Flamingo Land plans for the West Riverside/Woodbank House site in Balloch, which were withdrawn last year, and outline proposals for a tourism-led scheme in Tarbet, led by Optical Express founder David Moulsdale.

She said: “I’m worried about the environment – I feel it is quite ironic that we are hosting the COP 26 in Glasgow next year, and yet we’ve got these proposals for major developments all around Loch Lomond.

“The preservation of biodiversity is critical to tacking climate change - and with a project as large as is being proposed, the park planners must put biodiversity first.

“West Dunbartonshire Council oversees responsibility for the Balloch and Ardlui outdoor sports centres - both of which are currently vacant and would make wonderful leadership centres. There are other options.”

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READ MORE: Foundation defends its leadership centre plans for site on the shores of Loch Lomond

Meanwhile Gavin McLellan, in a letter to local government and planning minister Kevin Stewart on behalf of Kilmaronock Community Council, said: “Ross Priory is a category A listed building, is located on a prominent site on the banks of Loch Lomond and lies within a designated garden and designed landscape.

“It is surprising that an application for this sensitive site on the shores of Loch Lomond has not been the subject of an Environmental Impact Assessment before the consultation process.

“The planning authority has allowed the applicant to progress with the application even though it goes against the prime principle of the National Park, to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage.”

In their submission to the authority, the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs said they had originally had concerns about sewage discharge, but these had been dispelled by a pledge from the developer to “invest an additional £700,000 in connecting the development to the main sewage system”.

In the Friends’ submission, chairman James Fraser said: “The Leadership Centre and visitor accommodation buildings will greatly strengthen the range of facilities available at Ross Priory and are in accordance with many of the policies in the National Park Development Plan."

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