PLANS for a major new housing development in Helensburgh have been placed into jeopardy after the company which had an option on the site scrapped its development plans.

CALA Homes was granted outline planning permission by Argyll and Bute Council in 2016 to build more than 100 homes at the Sawmill Field site at the eastern edge of the town, next to Hermitage Academy.

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But the company has now decided not to go ahead with its proposal – leaving a major contribution to the expansion of housing in the area in significant doubt.

The 15-acre piece of land is partly owned by Helensburgh and Lomond South councillor Richard Trail, along with his three brothers, and he has admitted his frustration at the latest update.

Mr Trail said: “We are obviously disappointed that CALA have pulled out at this late stage.

“We understand that the site no longer fitted with their corporate objectives and we are trying to find another developer for this site.”

Mr Trail added that the process of sourcing a potential new bidder was still in the early stages and he was unable to comment further.

The site was initially earmarked for a development of 145 houses, comprising a range of two, three, and four-bedroom family homes, 25 per cent of which were allocated as affordable housing.

However, CALA later stated that such a density of homes could be considered “inappropriate” and subsequently deemed the development of 100-120 houses to be more suitable.

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The future of the site is now in doubt almost three years after the project was given the go-ahead in principle by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee.

A spokeswoman for CALA Homes said: “We can confirm that we had an option to explore a potential development on the Sawmill Field site in 2016.

“However, having fully considered the site and explored how we could best move forward, the decision was taken at the end of last year not to progress.”

Nigel Millar, who deals with planning matters for Helensburgh Community Council (HCC), said the building of new houses on the site was supported by HCC at the time, and would be again if suitable.

He added: “Naturally, we are disappointed that CALA have pulled out and we hope that another bidder can be found.

“New houses of good design are always welcome in Helensburgh and we look forward to the site coming back on the market again.”

Helensburgh and Lomond MSP Jackie Baillie, who also endorsed the development in 2016, said: “It is disappointing that CALA has decided not to go ahead with the development at the Sawmill Field site.

“Demand for housing still outweighs supply in the area. That said, this is clearly an opportunity for the council to work with local social housing providers to create a mix of affordable housing and housing for social rent.

“I would urge the council to work with local housing associations to see what can be developed at this site.”

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Elsewhere in Helensburgh, Persimmon Homes is currently building 76 houses at the former Dobbies garden centre site at Ardencaple – though it has applied to Argyll and Bute Council for permission to increase that number to 83 – while Taylor Wimpey’s development of almost 100 homes on the former Hermitage Academy site in Colgrain is well under way.

Also in 2016, members of Helensburgh Golf Club backed a proposal to build up to 300 homes on part of their course, though no planning application has yet been lodged for the site.