Mike Vickers' Blog

June 8, 2010

Linlithgow – A Vision 2010 – 2030

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association — derryvickers @ 10:18 am

The Linlithgow Civic Trust, in coming forward with A Vision for Linlithgow 2010-2030, has set itself a difficult task – the last version was only for 10 years.  Most of us can see the next 5 years – it will be much as now; a few of us may speculate what may happen in 40 years ie to 2050 but it is clear that it will be very different from now – think 40 years back and air travel was just for a few; to go to a far country we went by ship.  We could not have imagined the PC, the Internet and their impact on all our lives even thirty years ago.  On the other hand no one has since walked on the Moon.  But 20 years! 

I was privileged to talk with Derek Halden, a transport consultant who lives in Linlithgow, and he had presented the S2 year pupils of the Linlithgow Academy three PowerPoint slides as part of getting them to think what would Linlithgow be like in 2050 and how they could contribute to it.  Simply:

  • Slide 1 illustrates that pre 1800 our economy was based on ‘land and labour’ between 1800 and 2050 it was based on ‘Production and Consumption’ but now it is based on ‘Knowledge and Experience’. 
  • You could argue with Slide 1 being too simplistic but it is  much more difficult to argue against Slide 2 which shows that Peak Oil was at 2000 and oil production is already 25% down from the peak
  • And Slide 3 shows that the hectares per capita in 1950 was 5.15, in 2005 it was 2.02 and the estimate for 2050 if will be down to 1.14

Derek also pricked another of my preconceptions that Rail travel is environmentally friendly.  In his opinion in order of decreasing C0 2, Rail is the highest, then comes Bus, then Aircraft and then Car.  When working out C0 2 you have to take account of the total C0 2 production and that includes the making the rails and all the other infrastructure.  (He has subsequently modified his view in that if the infrastructure is there already better to use it.)  As a rail buff I don’t take all of this; looking the other way round – taking Service as a criterion rail and buses provide a service to the community, aircraft less so if you take Ryan Air as a model and cars no service at all to the community.   Yes, cars will not be petrol powered – they will be electric powered.  I commend to you the MIT Smart City 2020 car – more like a souped up supermarket Trolley (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLeLCzwlraw) – you buy the right to use one as and when.  

 So to the Vision.   

The Vision is very much in the 5 years plus mould – more of the same as the last 20 years.   And this may right.  The Vision accepts that the town will grow whether we like it or not so let’s make the best of it.  I wholly commend the sheer detail that has gone into preparing the Draft.  Clearly Ron Smith has been at work!

However I note that the LCT website states that the Civic Trust ‘aims to encourage the conservation of the town’s built and natural heritage’. Not much about ‘growth’

If I paraphrase the comments so far (and for this I apologise in advance)

  • Some want no development – very much in the spirit of the Aims
  • Others also wants no development in Linlithgow itself but propose a New Linlithgow out East
  • Climate Challenges view is that the town must become more environmentally sustainable.  However it remains unclear as to what effect this will have on the conservation of the fabric or on town growth.

To repeat, 20 years is very difficult to forecast for.

First I would find it valuable for an appendix to the 2010-2030 Vision, listing the changes that have taken place since the last Vision 2005-2015.  I know changes are largely embedded in the text, but it would be nice to have it in one place.

So if I put a finger in the air what do I see in the next 20 – 40 years for Linlithgow:

  1. The Palace will still be here largely untouched.
  2. The High Street will change its face as land prices in Linlithgow continue to rise and commercial organisations vi for a space, unfortunately driving out the smaller organisations such as shop keepers
  3. I can see an underground car park but cars will be electric and more of the MIT Smart City 2020 car type. 
  4. The town will be bypassed with a full motorway junction at Burghmuir
  5. An idea I would foster, NIMBY-like, is to move the main station to White Cross where 1500 houses are planned and to re-open the rail branch to Bo’Ness to passenger traffic.  There is no lack of rail space there.   Yes Linlithgow station to remain but only for stopping services from Dunblane
  6. But will there be so much commuting to Edinburgh and Glasgow? I doubt it – transport will be increasingly expensive.  Electronic communication will increasingly take over the need for office working in large cities.  OK there is still a need to fly.
  7. I’m very pleased with the beefed up section in the Vision on Business and Employment.  For Sheriff Court House read Bus Station. Also why not lease space from Sun / Oracle as high tech area. It does seem to me that unless Scotland becomes a design centre for the World we will increasingly become a 2nd or 3rd rate country.  And why not Linlithgow as a key design centre for Scotland?
  8. Will be more cosmopolitan – I thing Yes
  9. Will Linlithgow have a good social balance between all members of society?  The Vision again reiterates the need for social housing and this is right but where to put it.  In a New Linlithgow as one comment suggests.  Geography remains one of Linlithgow’s problems.  If the hill sides are not to be cluttered, development is East West so geography might dictate expansion towards White Cross – heaven forbid that’s Falkirk District
  10. But will we still be controlled from Livingston?  – I doubt it

Sorry, I realise I am well off the point.  The Vision is a great document for the next 5 to 10 years and will need revision again in 5 years time when the money becomes clearer and the balance between social and commercial expenditure sorts itself out.  As Derek Halden also says we don’t only need environmental sustainability, we must have economic sustainability also.

Finally there will need to be a lot more working together between all parties in Linlithgow and if the Vision is a catalyst so much the better.

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