SCOTLAND’S highest civil court has thrown out Inverclyde Council’s blueprint for new housing in the area.
Five developers raised legal action over the housing section of Inverclyde’s latest Local Development Plan (LDP) which was adopted last year.
Mactaggart and Mickel Homes, Miller Homes, Cala Management, Persimmon Homes and Wallace Land Investment and Management argued the plan didn’t allocate sufficient sites for housing. Developers are especially keen for housing to allowed at various sites in the Kilmacolm area.
Judges at the Court of Session agreed with the housebuilders, finding against Inverclyde Council and The Scottish Ministers, whose planning reporter approved the Local Development Plan.
Ewan MacLeod, partner at commercial law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, which represented the developers, described the decision as “extremely important”.
Writing on the business social network LinkedIn he said: “The facts of the case and the evidence involved are complicated but in brief a number of major house-builders challenged the Inverclyde Local Development Plan because it did not identify enough land to ensure delivery of the houses that are needed in the area.
“The Local Development Plan was subject to formal examination by a Reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers. The Reporter altered the requirements and took a broad brush approach on whether enough land was available over a 10 year period to meet one of those altered requirements.
“He ignored or disregarded evidence from Homes for Scotland that showed not enough housing land had been allocated. The Court decided the Reporter was wrong on all of these points and has quashed the Housing Chapter of the LDP.
“If the approach adopted in this LDP had been applied across the whole Clydeplan area it would mean thousands fewer houses than required.
“The Court’s judgement will ensure that doesn’t happen and that other councils now allocate sufficient land to meet the needs of the people who live or want to live in their areas.”
The development industry’s concerns about not enough land being identified for housing development related particularly to the Renfrewshire Housing Sub-Market Area (HSMA) of Kilmacolm and Quarrier’s Village.
Sites they proposed for inclusion in this area included west of Quarry Drive, Knapps, North Denniston, ARP field, Planetreeyetts, West Glen Road and Police Station field.
Homes For Scotland’s response to the Scottish Government’s Reporter when the LDP was examined stated: “There is a lack of greenfield land release across the Renfrewshire HSMA within Inverclyde. This is directly contrary to obligations set out in Clydeplan and agreed to by Inverclyde Council.
“A tight green belt boundary means there are next to no opportunities for greenfield release and no means to meet the identified under-supply of homes through a plan led system. Policy 14 of Clydeplan permits a review of green belt boundaries. The lack of a review within Inverclyde demonstrates a failure of the Plan.”
An Inverclyde Council spokesperson said: “We are considering the detail of the decision of the Court of Session.”