Family business calls on Scottish Government to approve new dairy proposal

Family-run dairy Graham’s has appealed to the Scottish Government to approve its planning application for Airthrey Green in Stirling.

The firm says the plan will facilitate the single largest investment in the Scottish dairy industry in more than a generation through the creation of a £40m processing, R&D and training facility, while also delivering vital housing to resolve Stirling Council’s long-standing shortfall.

The third-generation family business – in partnership with Mactaggart & Mickel Homes – submitted the planning application for the development which encompasses 600 houses including 150 affordable units, a new primary school and public park in 2014.

The application was recommended for approval by the Council’s Head of Planning, however, it was refused and has since been subject to a two-year planning appeal.

The project, which has been a total of eight years in the making, is now with Kevin Stewart the Minister for Local Government and Housing for approval. If passed, it will generate 1,425 jobs and inject £65.3m gross value added (GVA) into the Scottish economy.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham, managing director at Graham’s The Family Dairy, is calling on the Scottish Government to approve the application, which he believes is firmly in line with a range of policies and strategies - including the SNP’s Growth Commission report, Scotland’s Economic Strategy, the Scottish Planning Policy, Stirling’s Economic Strategy and the Scottish Food & Drink Strategy. He also believes it will deliver significant socio-economic benefits for the local area of Stirling, the Scottish food and drink industry, and Scotland as a whole.

Mr Graham also cautioned that failure to uphold their appeal would be at odds with the First Minster’s commitments at the SNP party conference in Aberdeen to “boost the economy now, preparing for the future and building the homes that people need”.

Mr Graham said: “Airthrey Green is the ideal case study for what the Sustainable Growth Commission Report refers to as the ‘Next Generation Economic Model for Scotland’. It will have a transformational, positive impact at a crucial time, not only to our business but also the local community. Approval will constitute a step-change in investment by facilitating the new dairy, while at the same time tackling the critical housing shortage for Stirling. At its heart, our project invests in people, affordable homes, jobs, skills and infrastructure, and builds on the tremendous opportunities that the recently announced City Deal for Stirling and Clackmannanshire unlocks.

“However, the alternative, if the appeal is dismissed is twofold: Stirling Council’s housing shortfall will continue to deepen, reinforcing the unaffordability of housing in Stirling with wider social and economic impact; and the step-change investment in jobs, skills development and the Scottish dairy sector that is essential to building a progressive, inclusive economy will not be delivered.

“The Growth Commission concludes: ‘Ultimately this is about the sort of country – society and economy – we want to become’. My response is that our family is dedicated to continuing to support the economic ambitions of Stirling and Scotland through partnerships that benefit inclusive growth, as evidenced by our commitment to make our biggest-ever investment against a backdrop of economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.”

If the Airthrey Green project is approved, the new dairy facility will integrate local skills and training programmes to support product development and innovation in the sector, including with the University of Stirling and through a modern apprenticeship programme with Forth Valley College.

Overall, the Airthrey Green development will include:

  • 600 new homes; including 150 affordable units and a wide range of tenures including retirement and custom build
  • A new two-stream primary school
  • Neighbourhood centre to provide facilities for healthy and active lifestyles
  • Parkland with footpath and cycle linkages
  • Retail floorspace in the region of 15,000 sqft
  • Infrastructure improvements; including enhancement of Airthrey Road corridor with new junctions and safe pedestrian linkages, flood alleviation scheme and enhanced public transport services

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