UNCERTAINTY hangs over the future of plans for up to 140 new homes near Helensburgh after a ruling by the Scottish Government.

Developer Avant Homes insists it will progress plans for the site at Kirkton Farm in Cardross – despite previously saying road safety measures required by Argyll and Bute Council would be too costly.

And both a community group set up to fight for appropriate road safety to the site, and a local councillor, say they believe it’s now unlikely the development will go ahead.

The house-building company – which was granted outline permission for a development at the site in 2017 – appealed to the government after the council failed to reach a decision on a separate application to vary some of the conditions attached to the approval.

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Government reporter Malcolm Mahony, in a written decision, partially upheld Avant’s appeal and granted planning permission.

Mr Mahony paid a visit to the village in April, and was met by more than a hundred concerned residents.

But in the detail of the decision, he said road safety measures would still be required – and largely left the council’s original conditions in place.

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Avant Homes wanted the main access route for the site to be via Barrs Road in the village, rather than Darleith Road, as specified when outline permission for the site was granted.

A spokesperson for Avant Homes said: “We are pleased that the reporter has granted a new planning consent for this strategically important site in Cardross.

“We look forward to working with Argyll and Bute Council to deliver the proposed development, which will be a mix of 75 per cent private and 25 per cent affordable homes.”

But Ellen Morton, one of the three councillors for the Helensburgh and Lomond South ward, which includes Cardross, said she believed it unlikely the development would now proceed.

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She said: “The road safety measures have to go in as per the original permission given by the council. The applicant has said all along that they cannot deliver these, partly because sale of land is required for it.

“Unless there is some change in the applicant’s decision, the practical outcome is that it is unlikely that the development will go ahead.

“Whatever happens, the big issue is, and always has been, road safety. It seems strange that this is land which has been identified for development given its location. You have Barrs Road, Kirkton Road and Muirend Road nearby, and it is beside a school, so a lot of transport already goes up there.

“So road safety measures are essential, and if the applicant cannot deliver these, then that is a harsh reality.”

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Julie Lang, from the Cardross Development Safe Access Group, said: “This has been a complex project from the start and the major problem of access to the site is still unresolved.

“In a long, but clear document, the Reporter has rejected the developer’s proposal to bring the sole access to the site along Barrs Road and adjacent roads.

“This would have been meant a potentially dangerous increase of traffic through an existing residential area.

“Condition four of the planning permission insists that the developer must first make road improvements to Darleith Road, which is still the proposed main access.

“In the past, Avant had stated that the cost of these road safety improvements would be too high. The onus is now on them to propose further changes in order to make the road safe for all users.

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“The Cardross Development Safe Access Group is relieved to know that if the development goes ahead, Barrs Road will not now carry so much traffic, but they are disappointed that the proposal for ten new parking spaces on Darleith Road has been reduced to three.

“The group also remain concerned that previous proposals by the developer for any Darleith Road improvements have suggested a difficult give way system and have not included the provision of pavements for pedestrians on a narrow country road.”

The Kirkton Farm site is one of several earmarked for major housing developments in Helensburgh and the surrounding area.

Others included the former Dobbies Garden Centre site at Ardencaple – now developed by Persimmon Homes – and part of Helensburgh Golf Club’s land in the north-east of the town.

A further site, at the Sawmill Field, east of Hermitage Academy, has permission for up to 145 properties – though the Advertiser revealed in April that developer CALA Homes had pulled out of the planned development of the land.