PLANNING permission in principle has been granted for a new office and family pub development at the eastern entrance to Helensburgh after the Scottish Government gave its approval.

Malcolm Pearson’s proposal for the Iona Stables site, beside the town’s Morrisons supermarket, was referred to Scottish ministers due to an objection by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) on the grounds of flood risk.

An Argyll and Bute Council planning officer previously stated that the proposal could be supported despite the objection, and the Scottish Government has now backed this up.

The authority’s planning, protective services and licensing committee also unanimously backed the plans at its meeting in April.

A detailed formal planning application has yet to be submitted for the development, but the granting of planning permission in principle marks a step forward for the project.

READ MORE: 'Fantastic news for Helensburgh' as business park plan gets outline approval – pending government ruling

Only one representation, neither in support of nor opposition to the planned development, was received from the public.

Mr Pearson has previously said that he hoped to submit detailed plans to the council for the new office space by the end of this summer.

A letter to Mr Pearson from the council’s head of development and economic growth Fergus Murray, issued on Monday, July 19, said that planning permission in principle was granted in accordance with the Town and Country (Scotland) Act 1997.

However, Mr Murray added: “It should be understood that this permission does not carry with it any necessary consent or approval for the proposed development under other statutory enactments and is not a Building Warrant.”

A letter to the council from the Scottish Government said: “It is not Scottish ministers’ intention to intervene in this application by either issuing a direction restricting the granting of planning permission or by calling in the application for their own determination.

“Accordingly you, as determining authority, are hereby authorised to deal with the application in the manner you think fit.”

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

In a handling report, issued by the council in April, a planning officer said: “If the current proposals are not supported there are no other allocated sites which would be suitable to meet this clearly identified need which would result in a significant and adverse impact to the Corporate Strategy, Economic Development Strategy, and Local Development Plan (LDP) objectives of promoting this land for employment purposes to serve the Helensburgh area.

“Officers are therefore of the opinion that when all matters are considered and given appropriate weight, that in this instance planning permission should be granted notwithstanding the objection from SEPA on flooding grounds.

“Officers have considered the proposal against the policies of the plan and consider that, the allocation of the site and economic benefits associated with its development, when considered against the LDP as a whole is considered to accord with its objectives.

“Any matters of objection on flooding matters from SEPA do not define or cause the application to be regarded as a departure for the plan, and importantly the council’s policy advisor does not consider the proposal as a departure from the statutory plan.”

READ MORE: Catch up with the latest news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here