The “West Lothian Riviera” was unveiled yesterday in Scotland’s fastest-growing town as 500 people, including 250 pupils from four local schools, turned out to mark the opening of Winchburgh Marina in West Lothian.

The new marina – on the Union Canal and located in Winchburgh’s emerging new town centre – was opened as a flotilla of canal boats, e-boats, canoes, and paddleboards entered to a backdrop of bagpipes.

Mandy Baird, a local resident, said: “I was seriously sceptical 20 years ago about such an ambitious project as this becoming a reality, but I’m happy to eat my words. It’s fantastic and something the community as well as visitors to the area can enjoy.

“I have been on Winchburgh Community Council for many years now and when John Hamilton of Winchburgh Developments came along in 2004 to discuss and show the community the future plans for our village, he said they were going to put on a Marina and I remember saying: ‘A Marina? If you build a Marina, I would jump in naked!’ Well, 20 years on and we have our Marina.”

Fellow local resident Graham Campbell, who serves as chair on Winchburgh Community Council added: “This is the latest piece in the puzzle towards carefully creating a town with character and personality with features that enable a great quality of life. Winchburgh is so well-placed in terms of links to road, cycleways and the Union Canal, and the new marina is a great addition to all the amazing development taking place here.”

The marina, overlooked by apartments, marks the latest milestone in the growth of Winchburgh and lies adjacent to an emerging town centre that is already home to a Sainsburys hubstore. Further housing will flank the facility, with plans for leisure units earmarked for restaurants, cafés and facilities for Scottish Canals. Winchburgh Developments Ltd worked with Scottish Canals to develop the facility, which can accommodate up to 20 narrowboats for tourists and residential berths, with plans for a further 29 moorings along the canal.

John Hamilton, CEO of Winchburgh Developments Ltd, said, “Today marks a major milestone in the sustainable and sensitive development of Winchburgh and it gives me great pleasure to handover the completed marina to Scottish Canals. It will, I’m sure, prove to be not only a major asset to people here but, we hope, a significant draw to those considering moving to be a part of this exciting community. So far, we are proud to have created an 85-acre community park, major motorway link, new retail spaces, and to have played a part in the realisation of a state-of-the-art three-school education campus, all while attracting developers to create a range of exciting  homes for our new residents.”

Scottish Canals’ Chief Executive Officer John Paterson said: “We’re delighted to take occupancy of Winchburgh Marina, this latest addition to Scottish Canals’ growing moorings portfolio. Winchburgh Marina is a fantastic example of how we are making the most of Scotland’s canals, through working with partners across the public, third and private sectors we’re able to offer new opportunities for those living on or near water.

“We’re excited to work with Winchburgh Developments Limited, our passionate boating community on the Union Canal and the community here at Winchburgh to create a vibrant hub for people to live, work and enjoy for the long term and I would encourage anyone who has ever had a fleeting thought about living on water, starting a business on the canal or ditching a caravan for a canal boat to get in touch with our moorings team.”

Claudia McPhail of Bridge 19-40 Canal Society said: “We’re delighted that the canal is once again becoming the heart of a community and hope the new marina will have a great future in and for Winchburgh! It is such a boost and much-needed positive development.”

Further plans are in place for Winchburgh’s water-based activities, with the quarry in nearby Daisy Park set to be transformed into a leisure facility.

Winchburgh Developments Ltd is behind the development of one of the most ambitious placemaking projects in the UK. At the end of February, WDL was crowned Property Company of the Year at the prestigious Scottish Property Awards in recognition of its investment in the area and the significant development milestones it has achieved over the last 12 months with its “infrastructure-first” approach to community planning. The company was also runner-up for Regeneration Project of the Year for its work on Auldcathie District Park, the 85-acre greenspace was partly formed from the reclamation of a former landfill site as part of a £6 million regeneration project.

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of five of Scotland’s canals as well as the surrounding estate and The Falkirk Wheel. Built 200 ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles.

Today Scottish Canals is utilising these 18th century assets along with innovative technology to tackle modern problems. Through working with partners to create pioneering systems, Scottish Canals is helping to combat flooding and driving positive transformation in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 20 million visits per year.