Master Plan to Breathe New Life into Luss
Improvements to infrastructure, a drive to create greater economic opportunity and a wider provision of housing is required if one of Scotland's most visited villages is to avoid becoming little more than a retirement community, according to a report published today (2nd October 2013).
Commissioned by landowner Luss Estates Company and authored by the award-winning urban design and economic development team of Page Park Architects and Roger Tym Associates, The Luss Strategic Development Framework sets out how the much visited village of Luss can proactively address population and economic decline, cope with tourist influxes and reclaim its place as 'Scotland's prettiest village.'
The Framework has been compiled following eighteen months of extensive research and consultation with the local community as well as key stakeholders and other landowners including Argyll and Bute Council (A&BC) and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (LLTNP). It addresses four key issues facing Luss: population, demographic and housing; economy and employment; transport and arrival, and setting.
Amongst the report's findings is the need to review planning policies to provide housing. This, it argues, will be essential to attracting more young families to Luss, in turn driving economic growth, creating a more sustainable community, and strengthening the village's position as an area service hub. "An ambition for a broad range of family housing, not exclusive to affordable provision or solely for local need", is recommended, with potential sites in and around Luss identified which could accommodate up to 78 new family homes. It also calls for improved communication technology, such as high speed broadband and mobile coverage, and for the exploration of business opportunities with, where feasible, the provision of business premises.
The Strategic Development Framework also tackles Luss' ability to meet the needs of its residents, balanced with those of the estimated 750,000 tourists who visit the village every year. Numerous suggestions are made, from nurturing an enhanced retail offering to pedestrianizing the historic core of the village, creation of a village green, enhanced and extended car parking, and improved road access and signposting.
Located approximately 30miles from Glasgow, off the main A82 trunk route, Luss is one of Scotland's most visited villages, with a combination of its spectacular scenery, pretty streets, loch access and Green Pilgrimage Site status all ensuring its enduring popularity with both overseas tourists and day trippers. An early Christian settlement, Luss dates back more than 1000 years, with much of its historic core laid out in the early nineteenth century to accommodate quarry workers and their families. More recently, the village achieved fame as the setting of iconic 1980s television programme Take the High Road. In the surrounding area, the principal landowner is Luss Estates which has remained in the continuous ownership of the Colquhoun of Luss family for eight centuries. Within Argyll and Bute Council, Luss also lies within the western boundaries of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, which has planning authority, yet is in easy reach of economic hubs including Dumbarton, Helensburgh, Faslane and Clydebank, as well as Glasgow.
The Luss Strategic Development Framework was launched today (2nd October 2013) by Sir Malcolm Colquhoun of Luss Bt, Chair of Luss Estates, at an event attended by members of the community, as well as representatives of both Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and Argyll & Bute Council.
Sir Malcolm said: "I am very proud to be launching this Strategic Development Framework for Luss in what, I hope, will be a pivotal moment in the history of this beautiful village. Having read its findings, it seems clear to me that the key to the future of communities such as Luss lies in the development of economic opportunities, allied to the provision of family housing, which will in turn lead to the provision of secure, well-paid jobs, especially for the young. From the aging demographic to traffic problems, roads that are in an awful state and generally poor retail offering, the picture presented by Luss today is, in many ways a sorry one. If the threatened closure of the school is carried out, Luss is in danger of becoming little more than a sunset community – something that few would wish to see happen. Change is urgently required, and I hope this document stimulates both debate and action."
Now, both Argyll and Bute Council and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park are being urged to embrace the Strategic Development Framework for Luss by adopting its findings.
Simon Miller, Chief Executive of Luss Estates, added: "Both authorities have been part of the process from the outset, as have many members of the business and resident communities. My thanks go to everyone who took part in the consultation. Their thoughts, suggestions and vision were crucial and greatly informed the Framework. What is abundantly clear is that all who participated – be they resident, neighbour, business, employee, landowner, local authority or national park - share a passion for Luss. Now we must continue to work together to ensure that the Framework becomes the stimulus for investment and the catalyst for change that is necessary if Luss is to survive as a sustainable, thriving community and economic hub."
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park also lent their support to the Report and its publication. Gordon Watson, Director of Operations, said: "This represents a fantastic opportunity to rethink how Luss works as both a community and a visitor destination. As the main landowner, Luss Estates will be key to delivering the aspirations of the framework and I am delighted they have initiated this process. Our role now is to consult more widely on the proposals before adopting them as planning policy, and to engage other key partners such as Argyll and Bute Council to deliver these plans on the ground."
To download a copy of the Executive Summary of The Luss Strategic Development Framework please click here.
For the full report, click here.