THE man behind plans for a business park and family pub and restaurant on the edge of Helensburgh says he hopes to submit detailed plans for new offices on the site by the end of this summer.

Malcolm Pearson spoke to the Advertiser after councillors voted unanimously to approve an application for ‘planning permission in principle’ for the site at Iona Stables on Cardross Road, east of the town’s Morrisons supermarket.

The application will, however, be referred to Scottish ministers because of an objection from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency over the risk of flooding arising out of plans to raise the level of the land on the site.

Despite that caveat, Mr Pearson said the decision by members of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee was “fantastic news”.

“I’ve been working on this project since late 2018,” he said. “It’s taken quite a while to provide what we think is a technical solution on the flooding issue.

READ MORE: Helensburgh pub and business park plan 'should be approved' despite flooding fears, say officials

“The majority of the site will not be developed due to the flooding issues, but we think the risk of any flooding impact is actually minimal, so we hope that common sense will prevail.

“The government has 28 days after being notified of the council’s decision to decide whether it’s going to call in the application, so we probably won’t find out if we’ve got consent until late May or the beginning of June.

“But if the councillors’ decision is rubber-stamped we can move on to the next stage, which is to seek detailed consent for the offices and the infrastructure, and I would hope we’ll be able to do that in the late summer.”

Mr Pearson said that the part of the site to be used for the proposed pub/restaurant would be marketed to potential operators, and they would be the ones to apply for detailed planning consent for that aspect of the project.

He also told the Advertiser that he doesn’t believe the pandemic will lead to a significant long-term fall in demand for office space, either in Helensburgh or elsewhere.

READ MORE: Major office development unveiled for site on eastern edge of Helensburgh

“We’re already starting to see the office market picking up,” he continued.

“From the time I spend working in Glasgow I know that people are slowly starting to come back into the city.

“Even if more people do end up working from home after Covid, staff based in offices will need more space – perhaps 10 or 12 square metres per person, rather than eight.

“Helensburgh has been lacking in office and industrial space for a long time. I’ve just let out a unit in East King Street, and I didn’t need to market it – it just went through word of mouth.

“That gives you an idea of the lack of suitable office space there is in Helensburgh at the moment.”

READ MORE: 'Lack of demand' blamed as plans for 60-bed hotel next to proposed Helensburgh business park are scrapped

A report by a council planning officer on the Iona Stables plans, prepared for Wednesday’s committee meeting, stated: “Given this is a gateway site to Helensburgh it is considered that the importance of the site will require to be reflected in the quality of any future detailed proposals.

“Officers and the community council effectively engaged with Bellway Homes on the housing site opposite to improve the design of the proposed block of flats, to ensure that the importance of the gateway nature of the site was properly reflected in the detailed design of the proposals.

“A similar high quality design reflecting the importance of this transitional site from rural to urban character will be expected by officers.

“The increased flooding associated with the land raising will not cause harm to other users or land, and therefore the consequences associated with the development proposals do not, in officer opinion, outweigh the clear benefits associated with the promotion of this much needed business site.”

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