MSP urges Graeme Souness to reconsider greenbelt housing plan

Graeme Souness. Picture: Ben Radford/Corbis via Getty Images
Graeme Souness. Picture: Ben Radford/Corbis via Getty Images

Former Rangers and Scotland footballer Graeme Souness has been asked to reconsider plans to build thousands of houses on greenbelt land.

The ex-Liverpool star and five of his family members own shares in a company behind the massive EuroPark development beside the M8 motorway in Lanarkshire.

But an MSP wants Souness, 65, to abandon the multi-­million-pound project after the company submitted plans to build 2,600 homes on the sprawling site.

In a letter to the former Ibrox boss, Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said: “I urge you to reconsider destroying this protected piece of green space.”

Campaign group Save Woodhall and Faskine said the development will ruin “irreplaceable” countryside, harm wildlife and cause pollution.

But Mr Simpson also believes preserving the site is important for the health of local residents.

In his letter to Souness, Mr Simpson adds: “You will be aware of the site and its importance both environmentally and culturally.

“What you may not be so aware of is its significance to the local community and their health and wellbeing.

“However, as a former sportsman I am certain that people’s physical and mental health are at the forefront of your thoughts.

“Scottish Government figures show that in 2016, 65 per cent of adults over the age of 16 were overweight and 29 per cent were obese.

“I am sure you would agree that these are shocking statistics. The value of green space to people’s health and wellbeing is well-documented.

“Unfortunately, if this application gets approval we will be losing open space and woodland.”

Souness’s son Fraser Souness, 37, and Scott Gillespie, 44, are directors of Orchard Brae Ltd which has applied to build on the land between the villages of Carnbroe and ­Calderbank.

Their company – 40.5 per cent owned by the Souness family – lodged its application with North Lanarkshire Council last month.

The company previously received a loan from a company owned by Scotland’s richest woman Ann Gloag. The land is owned by two daughters of former Conservative home secretary Willie Whitelaw.

The plans also include shops, educational and leisure facilities, restaurants, a pub, a garden centre and a hotel.

A 3,000-signature petition opposing development was presented to Holyrood in March when Mr Simpson led a debate calling for the greenbelt to be saved.

Labour leader Richard Leonard spoke out against the plans ,but the SNP’s Alex Neil did not take part, having previously said “we need all the investment and jobs we can get”.

An Orchard Brae spokeswoman declined to comment.