BILLIONAIRE businessmen Sandy and James Easdale have applied for a big increase in the number of homes they can build at Spango Valley.
The Greenock brothers, in partnership with Advance Construction, want to amend a planning condition that limits them to 270 properties at the former IBM Greenock site, to allow 450 instead.
They have submitted an application to Inverclyde Council planning department seeking permission for the amendment, arguing that the limit imposed on them makes development commercially unviable.
The council imposed the condition on the Easdales’s mixed-use proposal because the district’s planning blueprint limits the number of houses and flats allowed at the whole IBM site to 420.
The council state this is “an acceptable level of development in terms of tested and available capacity by Transport Scotland and the Council as Education Authority.”
The Easdales own a large part of the vacant land but a further area has a different owner which has yet to submit plans.
A document included with the application states: “It is the applicant’s position…that the reasons given (by the Council) for imposing this condition are flawed and that such a restriction leads to a non-viable planning permission, particularly since the planning permission contains contradictory conditions that require significant infrastructure improvements based on the development of a larger number of units than were approved by the permission.”
“The current unit restriction…was imposed through the arbitrary application of a site capacity that is not, so far as we are aware, supported by any evidence.
“The applicant contends that, through the provision of previously submitted technical information, the capacity of the site is greater than that identified by the council and that PPP [planning permission in principle] should have been granted for up to 450 units.”
The statement continues: “The applicant sought, from the outset, to work pro-actively and collaboratively with the council in order to identify a deliverable solution to the complex site of the former IBM factory.
“They also sought to engage with the neighbouring landowner and offered to buy their site (several times) or agree a Joint Venture (JV) approach to try and deliver a project across the whole allocation.”
A viability report prepared for the Easdales/Advance Construction found that the 270-unit development would result in a negative value.
A 450-unit scheme, “whilst not necessarily resulting in the level of profits that normal residential development would expect”, was considered viable.
The amendment request is pending consideration by officials.