THE owners of an area of land in Helensburgh earmarked for significant residential development say they are hopeful a new bidder will be found in the coming months – after the previous developer pulled out of negotiations.

CALA Homes withdrew from talks on the Sawmill Field site, next to Hermitage Academy, earlier this year, despite Argyll and Bute Council granting the building firm outline planning permission for more than 100 new homes in 2016.

A spokeswoman for CALA said at the time that “having fully considered the site and explored how we could best move forward, the decision was taken not to progress”.

However, Helensburgh councillor Richard Trail, who part-owns the 15-acre site with his three brothers, says several parties have since made their interest known and a major update is expected soon.

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He said: “The position is that several developers are interested in the site and have been invited to make bids.

“We hope to make progress with this over the summer and have a deal negotiated in the autumn.

“The current planning application submitted to the council is more a statement of intent that the housing development will be delivered in early course.

“At present there is no update of plans.”

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A ‘proposal of application’ notice (PAN) has been lodged with Argyll and Bute Council, believed to be a renewal of the previous planning permission which expires in August.

The plans approved in 2016 outlined CALA Homes’ proposal to build 100-120 homes on Sawmill Field.

The site had been allocated in the local development plan for 145 houses, but that figure was deemed as an “inappropriate density for the site”.

The initial project to develop a range of two, three, and four-bedroom family homes, 25 per cent of which were allocated as affordable housing, was given the go-ahead almost three years ago.

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The latest notice was due to be considered by the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee as the Advertiser went to press on Wednesday.

A report to that meeting recommended that the committee members “consider the content of the report, and provide such feedback as they consider appropriate in respect of this PAN to allow these matters to be considered by the applicant in finalising any future planning application submission”.

Councillor Trail is a member of the PPSL, but he previously told the Advertiser he had always excused himself from any discussion by the committee of plans to develop the site.

Following CALA Homes’ decision not to pursue their interest in the site, councillor Trail said the news was a setback to their plans.

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He told the Advertiser in March: “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.”