Affordable housing plan agreed for West Lothian shopping centre



The future of the Mill Centre in Blackburn looks to have been secured after a mixed-use retail and housing development plan was agreed for the site.

West Lothian Council along with the owners of the centre and the Blackburn Community Council subgroup have been in discussions to explore options for the provision of retail units within Blackburn Town Centre and the wider regeneration of the area.

The Mill Centre owners believe the centre is no longer viable in its current form, as a shopping centre, and planned to redevelop the site.

The owners, the local community and the council were keen to explore opportunities for the regeneration and the proposals which will deliver a mixed-use development and deliver retail provision is the culmination of those efforts.

At a meeting of the council executive last week, a report confirmed that the owners of the Mill Centre (The Associated Trustees of G. Dunbar & Sons (Builders) Limited Small Self-Administered Retirement and Death Benefit Scheme (the Pension Trustees) intend to progress with proposals to redevelop the centre, including the development of new homes and retail units.

While there are a number of detailed agreements that will have to be agreed between various parties, the proposals include; demolishing part of the Mill Centre to make way for new build affordable accommodation. The remaining part of the Mill Centre would be updated to provide several retail units. The owners will also seek to purchase the old community centre site as part of the regeneration project and redevelop the site, providing a further 20 affordable homes. All residential units are proposed to be delivered in partnership with a local housing association.

West Lothian Council will also progress with plans to remove the old fuel tanks from the former petrol station site, making it more attractive to developers, once formal approval is given. The former health centre site is also currently on the market for sale.

Donald Forrest, head of finance and property services, said: “Council officers and centre owners have dedicated a significant amount of time and effort in exploring all the options available. The community council subgroup has also played an important part in the process, helping to put across the views of the local community.

“We are pleased that a positive way forward has been set out and we will do everything we can to ensure that the regeneration of Blackburn town centre, with appropriate retail provision, takes place.”

“The council will continue to promote a wider approach to regenerating the town centre.”

Alison Kerr, chair of the community council and the subgroup, added: “We are very happy with this recent development which will help to retain local retail within the village and provide much needed affordable homes, which were the subgroups aim from the outset. We believe it will be warmly welcomed within the local community.”



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