A DATE has been set for a public hearing into controversial plans to build 76 new homes in Helensburgh.

The hearing on Persimmon Homes’ application to build on the former Dobbies site, off Rhu Road Higher, will be held on December 19 in Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls.

Planners at Argyll and Bute Council have recommended approval of the development despite more than 80 members of the public objecting to the plans.

The community council has also objected to the scale of the development and are calling for a smaller number of homes to be built instead.

A new community group – Architecture and Design Helensburgh – has been created to give evidence on behalf of the community council.

The group, made up of retired architects, town planners and landscape architects and others, will also help other groups who are objecting to the proposals.

Community councillor Nigel Millar told the Advertiser: “As it stands, there are too many houses being proposed for the site. They will be jammed in.

“There have been more than 80 objections and no letters of support.”

The public pre-determination hearing on December 19 has been called by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee and will be chaired by Helensburgh Councillor David Kinniburgh.

Council officials say the application should be approved, subject to 24 conditions, as a “minor departure” from the authority’s local development plan.

That development framework says the site is suitable for up to 60 homes – but a report by planners on Persimmon’s application says that number is “indicative and not prescriptive”.

Persimmon said previously its application was “fully compliant” and would provide “much needed affordable first time buyer and family homes”.

The hearing is due to start at around 11.30am.

After evidence from Persimmon Homes, the council planner who is recommending approval, Architecture and Design Helensburgh and any other objectors, the committee will debate the two sides’ points before reaching a decision.