The decision on a controversial plan to build 90 homes in Neilston has been delayed to allow councillors to visit the site.
Dawn Homes wants to develop land off Kirkton Road but more than 1000 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 after talks with the planning department, could be approved but the planning committee decided a site visit should be arranged.
Councillor Annette Ireland, SNP, the committee chairwoman, said she had a number of concerns over the current proposal, including the noise from the nearby railway, and put forward the site visit.
The move will delay a ruling until after the council elections on May 5. Conservative councillor Jim Swift, who is not standing for re-election, suggested the site visit was “a bit of a cynical ploy”. A new planning committee, formed after the elections, will now visit the land before making the decision.
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’m extremely concerned that it looks as if it’s just the householders are to keep their windows closed at night to avoid a waking event.”
She added: “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 is not standing for re-election, said: “We need to be blunt here, it’s a site for development earmarked in the local development plan. The plan has been agreed by all of the political parties, it’s now been approved by the Scottish Government.
“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.”
He added: “If we were to simply refuse this because there are a number of objectors, I think it is almost 100% certain that the developer would go to the Scottish Government reporter and the reporter would say it’s a site for development in the local plan and pass it.
“I don’t think we do local people any favours with a willy-nilly rejection. If it’s going to be rejected, it has to be thorough and 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. The thousand plus objectors who do not want development on this site, well it’s going to be developed, it’s in the local development plan, it’s going to happen.”
He said he did not believe the site visit was “anything other than a slight delay”.
“The future committee can put in means to reduce some of the considerations that upset that committee the most.”
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