Column: Forthside Development Holds Key to Brighter Future

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Categories: Column, News

Column from Alyn Smith MP, for local newspaper the Stirling Observer

In this cost of living crisis, we need to see smart investment and development for our city and surrounding communities. Stirling already has a solid reputation as a great place to live, work and visit, and I’ll work with anyone to deliver for the people of Stirling – especially during these strained economic times.

The potential for tens of millions of pounds to flow into our city is within reach, but we need to push through the limbo we currently find ourselves in to unlock that potential.

Last Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions, I urged Rishi Sunak to investigate ongoing delays in discussions over the development of the Forthside area in Stirling.

Forthside holds immense promise for the future of our city and the surrounding communities. The 40-acre site has the capacity to accommodate 350 housing units and 100,000 square feet of business space. It is a prime location, nestled near transport links, retail outlets, leisure facilities, and the picturesque River Forth. A well-planned and thoughtful development can be both green and sustainable, meeting the evolving economic and housing needs of our thriving city and region.

In January 2023, Stirling Council secured £19 million from the UK Levelling Up Fund for the development of the Ministry of Defence land at Forthside. It is an opportunity waiting to be seized, a chance to transform land with a rich military history into a vibrant hub of residential and business activity. However the project has become stuck, due to concerns over land clean-up costs and who will shoulder them.

A military installation since 1899, the possibility of contamination raises concerns for both the environment and the financial burden it may impose on the Council. In February of this year, local Stirling Councillors voiced their own concerns over the delays and the potential risks associated with transferring the land in an unsuitable condition.

That is why I have sought an urgent meeting with officials from the UK Government and Stirling Council. We need to progress the development plans, facilitate the necessary negotiations, and find a way forward. The success of Forthside’s comprehensive development is not only vital for our city but also plays a significant role in the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, a £90.2 million agreement between the Scottish and UK Governments reached in 2018.

We’ve got the plans, we’ve got the funding, and we’ve got the ambition. Let’s weave it all together, and get to work.