DEVELOPERS are under fire for using “speculative practices” in a bid to win permission to build houses on farmland.
Conservative MSP Maurice Golden tabled a Parliamentary question to ask the Scottish Government what actions it is taking to regulate such applications in light of a number of attempts by builders to develop greenfield sites in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.
Without naming any firms, Mr Golden said: “I am deeply concerned about the practices employed by certain companies in order to obtain planning permission on the greenbelt, particularly on agricultural land.
“While these tactics are not illegal, they go against the spirit of the law.”
In Renfrewshire, a number of applications to build on greenfield sites that were rejected by council chiefs are currently going through the appeals process.
And concerns have been raised in Barrhead over plans for almost 100 upmarket homes on picturesque greenbelt land near a former quarry.
That application, by Gladman Developments, is for permission in principle for homes on land north of the Boylestone Quarry and west of Brownside Avenue.
It is the second time an attempt has been made to build on the site, after a developer tried and failed to gain permission in 2013.
A 12-week consultation is now under way, with members of the public given a chance to see the proposals at an event in Barrhead earlier this week.
However, there are calls for regulations to be tightened to prevent developers using the appeals system to ‘bulldoze’ their way to planning permission, against the wishes of local communities.
Mr Golden, who represents the West of Scotland as a list MSP, wants to see specially-designated greenbelt zones created to allow local authorities to prevent housing developments in these areas.
He said: “The Scottish Government would have to abide by this as part of any appeals process.
“The interests of local communities must be front and centre in the local planning process.
“We need to build more homes but these homes should be built on brownfield sites and also where planning permission has already been granted.”
An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “As part of the current adopted Local Development Plan (LDP), a number of suitable brownfield sites have been identified for development to support the council in meeting its housing targets.
“As part of our plans to develop a new LDP, the Main Issues Report has set out a range of sites which could be suitable for development and the site to the north of Boylestone Quarry is not identified as one of the preferred areas of land.
“This planning application is at the very early stages and will be considered in the usual open and transparent way at a future planning application committee.”
No-one at Gladman Developments was available for comment.