On Monday of this week, as a member of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee, I took part in the decision-making process relating to a very controversial planning application for 24 new homes at Station Road, in Garelochhead.

Although well over 160 objections (mostly local) had been submitted and there were no local letters of support, planning officers recommended that the proposals be approved.

In such a situation, when the application complies with the Local Development Plan, there are difficulties for any councillor who does not agree with the officers’ recommendation and is of the view that the application should be refused.

A competent motion based on planning grounds has to be produced if there is to be any chance of going against the officers’ recommendation. That was the position I found myself in on Monday.

Having heard all of the representations, I tabled a motion to continue consideration of the application so I could be given the opportunity to produce a competent motion to refuse. Unfortunately, an amendment was tabled by another councillor to approve it.

On a vote, the application, with a range of conditions attached, was approved by six votes to three, with only myself and two other councillors voting against the amendment to approve the application.

As I highlighted at the meeting, I believe the conditions officers were recommending be attached to the application could not be achieved and there was virtually no chance that the development could proceed.

There is a long history to the development site and I believe that, as with previous planning applications for this site over more than 20 years that were approved, this development will not proceed.

One condition attached to the application requires at least 6.3 metres for the carriageway and footpath on Station Road. As the maximum width of the road is 5.5 metres, it appears that it is impossible for this condition to be achieved.

It is unfortunate that the planning system can make it very difficult for the views of local communities to prevail, especially when controversial applications are being considered but, as I have demonstrated in the recent past with a planning application at Portincaple, it is not impossible for councillors to reject officers’ recommendations.

I never criticise planning officers, as they are required to asses all planning applications against the local development plan. It is for councillors to place an appropriate weighting on the views of the community if they are to reflect those views in the decisions that we take.