ARGYLL and Bute’s MP has urged council chiefs to think carefully about the suitability of a proposed  housing and hotel development on the shore of Loch Long before deciding whether to allow it to go ahead.

The plans for the hotel and residential units at Portincaple are currently the subject of a screening application submitted to Argyll and Bute Council by Greenspace Architects – though no formal planning application has yet been lodged.

The Portincaple Residents’ Association (PRA) has been in touch with Brendan O’Hara MP, along with Jackie Baillie MSP, to air their concerns on the plans.

READ MORE: Portincaple residents' fears over major lochside development plans

And Mr O’Hara admits to having been surprised at the scale of the proposed development, which the PRA has claimed will double the size of the community in one fell swoop.

Mr O’Hara said: “As with all potential development around Argyll and Bute, size, scale and sustainability is vital to ensure development works for everyone.

“I was surprised at the scale of this development and would urge thorough inquiry by the council and all statutory consultees to ensure this potential development is of a size and nature that complements the development goals across Argyll and Bute.

“No one should be against development for development’s sake but it needs to enhance the area in line with the consensus views formed in the local planning process.”

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An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson had previously said: “A screening decision (or screening opinion) is the process of determining whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required as part of a planning application.

“The Planning Authority will indicate either yes, that an EIA is required, or no, it isn’t, and set out reasons why not. A request for a screening opinion is not a public process and as such the Planning Authority does not take third party comments into account.

“We would emphasise that these views are solely in respect of whether an EIA is required for these proposals, and are without prejudice to the determination of any future planning application containing the detail of the proposals.

“This screening opinion should therefore not be taken as reflecting any decision or stance to support or oppose the proposals by the Planning Authority.”

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Hilary Wharton, of the Residents Association, said: “The council defines the area as a minor settlement according to its planning policy, which also says that for those areas it is against any more than five housing units.

“So we are shocked and distressed really, as this goes against anything in the local development plan.

“There are 54 houses in Portincaple so this doubles the size of the community overnight.”

Bruce Jamieson of Puregreenspace Architects in Helensburgh, which has drawn up indicative illustrations of the proposed development, said the name of the village meant ‘port of the mare’ and drovers from the Highlands used to bring cattle across at that point.

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He said: “We have been working on this for a long time and it’s still evolving.

“It is an exciting development and an amazing opportunity to rediscover a lost connection to Loch Long.”

Ms Baillie had said that she understood residents’ concerns and was happy to assist in any way.