Land for City Deal project in Bowling now under Council ownership

A deal to transfer ownership of land at ExxonMobil’s former Esso site in Bowling to West Dunbartonshire Council has been completed.

The transfer marks a significant milestone for the £34 million Glasgow City Region City Deal project, and will mean plans to transform the site by creating a major industrial and commercial development can progress.

The 150-acre site is currently undergoing extensive remediation to prepare it, and the Council will start work on the land when this is complete.

As part of the deal, the Council takes ownership of the whole site, running from Eastfield near Scotts Yard at Bowling Harbour, to Westfield and Sheepfold at Glasgow Road, Milton, without cost.

The Council will also receive £1million from ExxonMobil.

Of the 150 acres, 45 acres will be developable land, and it is proposed that a further two acres are used for the creation of a new road, which would provide an alternative route through West Dunbartonshire.

It comes three months after elected members in West Dunbartonshire approved officers’ plans to progress a commercial deal with ExxonMobil. Missives on the land were signed last week.

All land will be remediated by ExxonMobil to standards agreed by the Council’s Environmental Health team and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), with their strategy approved by Planning Committee last year. This process is expected to take two years.

Following successful remediation, the Council will undertake its own development works. The transfer of ownership follows an application for Planning Permission in Principle for the project made on behalf of the Council last month. It details proposals to locate office and industrial development in Eastfield, business in Centrefield and storage and distribution in the Westfield areas. The application also describes plans for landscaping, open space, green corridors and public spaces as well as a new 1.95km link road with upgraded A82 and A814 access junctions alongside a railway underpass and overbridge.

A heritage area identified around Dunglass Castle and a protection zone is included in the application to ensure the listed structure and its setting are not compromised as the site develops and evolves.

Council officers are currently negotiating with surrounding landowners regarding the transfer of their land ownership to enable the wider development.

Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “This is a significant step forward for this project and I am pleased that it is continuing to progress.

“As our local economy re-starts, it is vital that projects like this one – which is expected to support up to 690 full time jobs – are prioritised.

“The transformation of this site will be one of the biggest and most important infrastructure improvements in West Dunbartonshire’s history and will bring about real change for the area.”

West Dunbartonshire Council Leader, Councillor Jonathan McColl added: “This is an exciting milestone for this project and an exciting time for West Dunbartonshire, with so much regeneration going on across the area.

“The proposals for this site will transform a derelict piece of land into an accessible commercial development, which will attract even more investment in our area; improve connectivity for people who are living here, working here or visiting the area, as well as supporting extra jobs for local people.

“Our development also provides a much-needed Milton bypass road, removing the bottleneck that too often causes significant access issues between Dumbarton and Clydebank.

“The progress of this deal states loudly that West Dunbartonshire is open for business and I look forward to seeing that continue over the coming months and years.”

The Glasgow City Region City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight Local Authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “It’s great to see such significant progress in delivering this transformative project, with the partnership between private and public sector working in a positive way to unlock a development that will result in sustainable and inclusive growth for the region.

“The Scottish Government is a full partner in the Glasgow City Region City Deal, contributing £500 million over 20 years to the Infrastructure Investment Fund. The investment in this project through the Deal will contribute to the region’s economic recovery by creating jobs, and providing the commercial infrastructure to support and attract businesses to the West Dunbartonshire area.”

A UK Government spokesman added: “This is great news for Bowling and West Dunbartonshire.  Under the City Region Deal, the remediation of the former Exxon site will be undertaken in partnership with the private sector to allow a major commercial and industrial development that will support jobs and economic growth. These kinds of local initiatives, alongside the wider benefits of the UK City Region Deals to Scotland, will play an important part in steering the Scottish economy through the challenges of Covid-19 and beyond.”