Decision delayed on controversial Neilston development

The decision on a controversial plan to build 90 homes in Neilston has been delayed to allow councillors to visit the site.

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The proposed development has attracted more than 1,000 objections

Dawn Homes wants to develop land off Kirkton Road, but more than 1,000 objections have been sent to East Renfrewshire Council. Neighbours are concerned about extra noise, the loss of green space and busier roads.

Council officials recommended the plan, which was revised in November, could be approved, but the planning committee decided a site visit should be arranged.

Committee chairwoman Councillor Annette Ireland had a number of concerns over the current proposal, including the noise from the nearby railway, and put forward the site visit.

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The move will delay a ruling until after the council elections on May 5, which led Councillor Jim Swift, who isn’t standing for re-election, to suggest the site visit was “a bit of a cynical ploy”.

Council planners recommended the scheme for approval, subject to a legal agreement to secure social housing, as the site has been identified for housing and is “a sustainable location given its proximity to local facilities and access to public transport”. There would be 24 properties for social rent.

However, Neilston residents have also raised fears over a lack of infrastructure, such as schools and shops, to support the new homes, a loss of sunlight and privacy and the impact on the environment.

A noise assessment revealed houses closest to the railway line will experience noise levels at night which are “likely to cause a waking event”. The council’s environment health team said the proposal does not meet World Health Organisation standards.

However, a report to councillors added: “Given the local circumstances, it is considered that whilst there may be some adverse impact on the amenity of future residents at night time, it is not significantly different from the rest of the urban area, and therefore it would be unreasonable to refuse the application on these grounds.”

Councillor Ireland said: “I’m really quite concerned about this, I thought it was 31 houses but I’ve been told it’s 37 houses that are going to be affected by this and that the amount of noise at night is above the WHO guidelines.

“I would feel much more comfortable if I had a site visit, the opportunity to walk round that site. As it stands for me, I’m uncomfortable with this site as it is.”

Provost Jim Fletcher, who also isn’t standing for re-election, said: “We need to be blunt here, it’s a site for development earmarked in the local development plan.

“There would be, from a developer’s point of view, an expectation if they come along with a proper plan for the site that the council would give planning permission because we are saying it’s an area that can be developed.

“If we were to simply refuse this because there are a number of objectors, I think it is almost certain the developer would go to the Scottish Government reporter and they’d say it’s a site for development in the local plan and pass it.

“If it’s going to be rejected there has to be genuine planning reasons why this can’t go forward.”

Councillor Swift said: “I kind of think there’s no chance that this won’t be developed, it’s in the local development plan, it’s going to happen.”