Controversial green belt house project passed

A CONTROVERSIAL request to build 75 houses on greenbelt land in Kilmacolm must get the green light from the Scottish government.

Ministers say they ‘intend’ to allow developers Mactaggart and Mickel to build on Kilmacolm Meadow, west of Quarry Drive, and have embraced the proposal in principle.

Permission was initially granted by Inverclyde Council, despite fierce opposition from campaigners and villagers.

Opponents include the Kilmacolm Residents Association, Kilmacolm Community Council, Civic Trust and ward councillors.

The government then ‘called’ the request last year, saying it raised issues of ‘national importance on planning policy’.

Now they have endorsed the recommendation of an expert urban planning journalist who said approval should be given, with conditions.

The government’s planning appeals division said ‘Ministers agree with the reporter that the negative impacts of the proposed development would not outweigh the benefits’.

They want a planning bond – or an alternative legal agreement – ​​which means 25% of the development must be affordable, and developers contribute to off-site works that will improve the walking and cycling environment in Kilmacolm.

The formal decision will be postponed for six months for these issues to be resolved.

Villagers are angry at the move and fear it will pave the way for more Greenbelt land to be used for new homes in the future.

A local resident, who asked not to be named, said: “I think it’s shameful.

“There are lots of brownfield sites like Balrossie and Smithy Brae, and the self-built plots at Leperstone Drive that have not been occupied.

“This app drives a bulldozer through the normal planning system.”

Kilmacolm Councilor David Wilson said he had ‘mixed opinions’.

He told Tele: “I voted against it, but there is a feeling in the village that there is a shortage of affordable housing for families and opportunities for older people to downsize.

“The locals fought hard and I’m sure they will be disappointed with the result.”

Mactaggart and Mickel bosses say they are happy to be able to move forward now.

Bruce Hampton, the company’s senior land and planning director, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to approve our application, which will help address the housing shortage in the area.

“This decision follows extensive consultation with the local community and approval by Inverclyde Council over a year ago.

“We would like to thank everyone who has engaged in this process over the past few years.

“We remain committed to continuing to work with the local Kilmacolm community to deliver a high quality housing development that people can be proud of.”

A spokesman for Inverclyde council said: “The application was called by Scottish ministers because the council owned part of the land and the application showed a deviation from the development plan and that is part of the procedures normal planning.

“Ministers, subject to meeting a series of conditions, have decided that the request should be granted.

“The terms put in place broadly match those the council proposed in the original application, with some minor changes and a difference in developer contribution and affordable housing terms.”

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