Villagers say they are ‘in shock’ after their objections to the latest stage in the saga of Rhu Marina were ignored.
Part of the site in the conservation village is designated as high density housing in Argyll and Bute Council’s draft Local Development Plan.
Residents fear this means there could be a repeat of the type of housing development which caused so much controversy when it was part of a masterplan for the marina which was unanimously rejected in August following objections by more than 1,000 people.
Councillors were lobbied by many members of the public before yesterday’s meeting of the Helensburgh and Lomond area committee but did not change the designation as officers told them it would delay the whole plan process by at least a year.
They sought to reassure the public about safeguards but afterwards the meeting was described as a ‘fait accompli’ by Alastair Moore who was part of the ‘Save our Rhu Bay’ campaign.
He said many locals had contacted councillors despite having less than 24 hours’ notice of the meeting, expressing their opposition to plans for any type of designated housing on the site.
“Here we are again with the planners still earmarking Rhu Marina with high density housing,” he said.
“It is very clear that the overwhelming majority of the local community want to see Rhu Marina developed only as a marina, without housing and sensitive to the village’s conservation area status.
“The community is in shock with the outcome of the meeting and the continuation of the pushing through of high density housing by planners and many believe the meeting was a fait accompli.”
Councillor George Freeman told the meeting that the site was contentious but a ‘mini-brief’ would need to be produced as a first step, followed by another masterplan, so the elected councillors would still have control on what was built there.
“We are not necessarily looking at a high density housing development on that site,” he said.
“I believe we can give the community reassurance on what has been proposed.”
Planning officer Mark Lodge said: “There is room in a mini-brief or us to include the parts off the site and numbers and form of housing.
“The fact that it has been described as high density does not mean that it will be high rise, for example.”
Councillors voted unanimously not to amend the designation on the local development plan.
A report on the other contentious sites which were discussed at the meeting will be published on this website tomorrow.