AYRSHIRE entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter has spoken of his excitement at the prospect of helping develop a new town in West Lothian after his vision moved closer to becoming a reality.

Sir Tom’s West Coast Capital is set to make a multi-million pound investment in coming decades in the 3,500 home Winchburgh project in spite of the uncertainty about what Brexit will mean.

However, hammering home his view that there should be a second referendum on Brexit, Sir Tom underlined his confidence the investment will pay off whatever storms may lie ahead.

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“People say are you investing at the right time? I’ve no idea but if you sit on your hands and wait for politicians to sort things out you’ll never invest a penny,” said Sir Tom.

He complained that politicians had badly failed in their handling of Brexit. The public had not been given the facts required to make an informed decision and had even been told lies in advance of the referendum in 2016.

“Now that we know what Brexit could look like we need to go back and say why are we leaving,” noted Sir Tom, who reckons the case for a second people’s referendum has become unanswerable.

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Regarding Winchburgh, he added: “As long as we get the financial structure right it’s never going to come under pressure. If there are downturns we can weather those storms.”

West Coast’s confidence in the Winchburgh plan has increased after the company won backing for the project from one of the UK’s biggest insurers and struck key agreements with the Scottish Government and West Lothian Council to support work on the related infrastructure.

As well as providing homes for thousands of people, the development will include four new schools, a motorway spur, a giant public park and a new railway station.

“The fact that we are building a new town and the station will be 11 minutes from (Edinburgh) Haymarket, to be able to build something on that scale is something quite exciting,” observed Sir Tom.

After losing some of the fortune he made from the £290m sale of his Sports Division business when investments in house builders went badly during the financial crisis, Sir Tom has persevered with plans for Winchburgh in the face of big challenges.

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He bought into the project in 2007 in the belief that Winchburgh’s location meant it was ideally placed to benefit from long term developments in the economy in the area only to find some firms dropped out amid the downturn triggered by the credit crunch.

West Coast spent years trying to secure the public support needed to develop the infrastructure required to make plans for the town viable.

The company announced yesterday that it had formed a joint venture with Cala Homes to invest in the development and delivery of the overall masterplan for Winchburgh.

Details of the agreement have not been disclosed but Sir Tom said it will entail multi-million investment. He noted that Cala was acquired last year by life and pensions giant Legal & General, which has made clear it is ready to invest in the housebuilding sector in the long term.

“Theres’s some heavy lifting going on now,” said Sir Tom. “Rather than put in debt we decided to look for a partner who shared our long-term view.”

Cala will build some homes at Winchburgh. It will work with West Coast to complete the developments required to ensure other housebuilders buy land on the site. Sir Tom noted a first phase development won support from five housebuilders, including Miller and Taylor Wimpey. These built and sold around 550 homes.

West Lothian Council will build two secondary and two primary schools, which will ultimately be paid for by house builders via receipts from the roof tax.

The Building Scotland Fund is lending £26.8m to support infrastructure investment.