Falkirk 'Pineapple house' could get visitor centre as National Trust drop objection

Pineapple in Dunmore -Credit:LDRS
Pineapple in Dunmore -Credit:LDRS

The National Trust for Scotland has said it won't object to plans to build a new visitor centre and 82 houses on farmland close to one of Scotland's most distinctive buildings.

Landowner and developer George Russell is hoping it will be third time lucky for the development he hopes to build close to the Dunmore Pineapple, near Airth, which was rejected by Falkirk councillors just last January.

As the plans are contrary to its policies, Falkirk Council held a pre-determination hearing on Tuesday evening where councillors could find out more about the latest plans and hear from both those in favour and those against the development.

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One of the major differences this time is that the National Trust for Scotland - which owns the building - has not objected and Airth Parish Community Council has also declared its support for the project.

However, the Trust has stressed that the visitor centre being proposed - with a cafe, arts and craft workshop and a small retail area - will be a private business and the heritage charity will have no involvement.

The Dunmore Pineapple, near Airth
The Dunmore Pineapple, near Airth -Credit:Falkirk Council

While the Community Council is supportive, many residents continue to firmly oppose the development and several spoke against it at the hearing.

Some locals, including members of the Community Council, believe the development will bring jobs and much-needed facilities to the Pineapple, which does not even have toilets for visitors.

Others believe that the charm of the area is its peaceful country setting, which has become a haven for wildlife and popular with walkers.

The latest application has received 195 objections with some concerned about the impact the development will have on local schools and GP services as well as poor public transport.

There have also been 91 representations in support of the scheme.

An agent speaking on behalf of the applicant, George Russell, told members that the new plans had taken into account feedback they had received and said that several changes have been made to the application "to extend the benefits and minimise the key impacts of the scheme".

Other key differences include the actual site of the visitor centre and the proposed roundabout that will allow access to the development.

The new design shows a new 4-arm roundabout on the A905 to provide access to the development. This would also involve realignment of the B9124
between the A905 and East Lodge, where the existing road would be rejoined.

The type of housing proposed has also changed and there will be a variety of house types, including affordable and wheelchair accessible housing, after criticism of the previous plans to have only bungalows.

There will also be an outdoor activity and garden space adjacent to the visitor centre, which the developers say is in response to feedback received during the public consultation.

While NTS is not objecting, Matthew Benians, chair of Scotland's Landscape and Gardens Heritage charity, attended the hearing to urge councillors to protect the designed landscape, which they consider to be of national significance.

Councillors requested extra information to help them make the final decision when the application returns to the planning committee.

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