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Tycoon backs plan for new village on Hall's factory site

One of Scotland's richest women is backing multi-million-pound plans to build a small village on the site of the former Hall's of Broxburn sausage factory which once employed 1700 workers.

PLANS: Ann Gloag is backing the development at the Broxburn site.
PLANS: Ann Gloag is backing the development at the Broxburn site.

Stagecoach co-founder and philanthropist Ann Gloag, who is worth hundreds of millions of pounds, is jointly involved in the project with the wealthy former owner of the firm Fred Duncan.

They have lodged plans for a new community hub with homes, shops, a restaurant, offices and a place for people to gather on the now-demolished site in West Lothian.

It could mean hundreds of new jobs for the town that was devastated by the closure of the meat processing company by Dutch group Vion last year. At the time it was losing £79,000 per day.

Ms Gloag and Mr Duncan's Broxburn Regeneration company has already launched community talks on the scheme and has asked for ideas from residents for the 18-acre site.

In 2008 Mr Duncan sold ­Grampian Country Food Group which owned the Broxburn site to Vion for an estimated £350 million.

The East Main Street site was earlier reported to have been put on the market this time for £2m.

The move also involves ­Glasgow-based Paradigm Asset Management Group, which also lists Mrs Gloag as a director, and Rubicon Land.

Broxburn councillor Janet Campbell said reassurances had been sought from the company for a section of affordable housing and a community centre.

She said: "The plans are for houses with a restaurant and also community use.

"We have also asked for units that can be used for small to medium-sized businesses."

Ms Campbell added: "It wasn't part of the local plan and certainly happened very quickly. At the end of the day we don't want a big gap site in Broxburn for a long time.

"But certainly we would also want to see social housing and opportunities for well-paid jobs.

"I would have thought it would create at least 200 jobs."

Tom Roy, chairman of Broxburn Community Council, said company representatives would be quizzed over their plans at a meeting next week. He said: "It has to be positive for the area. We are in a very good position here on the corridor to the airport. A hotel would also be good for here.

"They have been asking us what we want there. We will make sure it is right for the area."

The closure last year of the firm that produced the UK's best-­selling haggis came as a shock to the workers and the area that had already been hit by the collapse of the mining and car manufacturing industries and then the demise of Silicon Glen.

It prompted a huge rescue mission from national and local government and in the last year 1000 jobs have been lined up after £8m was spent on re-training and a funding programme allow firms to expand and take on new staff.

Alistair Reid-Thomas, Rubicon Land director, said more detailed plans would be made once feedback from the community had been collated.

Broxburn Regeneration confirmed it has agreed to buy the site from Vion and would take over once clearance work has been completed at the end of April.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government, said: "We welcome any activity that will help to regenerate the former Halls of Broxburn site, and we stand ready to engage with the developer on their future plans."

The involvement of Ms Gloag and Mr Duncan adds commercial weight to the venture.

Along with her brother Sir Brian Souter, the joint fortune of £650m placed Mrs Gloag ­nominally ahead of author JK Rowling, who has £560m, on the rich list.

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