EAST Renfrewshire’s MP has thrown his weight behind a bid to halt controversial plans to build 50 homes on Barrhead’s greenbelt.

Paul Masterton has written to all residents in the area to alert them to the proposed development on the Fereneze Braes.

The planning application, if approved, would see Gladman Developments build new properties on land to the north of the former Boylestone Quarry and west of Brownside Avenue.

A similar bid by Mactaggart and Mickel to build on the land in 2010 was rejected after it was opposed by many local residents.

And hundreds of people have signed a new petition, kick-started by campaigning Barrhead man Tom Lagan, to object to the latest plans.

Now it has been confirmed that Mr Masterton has also formally objected to the application, which is not likely to come before East Renfrewshire Council’s planning committee until mid-March.

In his letter of objection to the council, the Tory MP wrote: “Having reviewed the planning documents in respect of this housing development, I have many concerns regarding this unsolicited and unexpected development on the ever-diminishing greenbelt in Barrhead and East Renfrewshire more generally.

“There already are proposals for the building on brownfield sites at Shanks Park and the Cargo Depot Centre which help to fulfil the Local Development Plan’s five-year provision of houses.

“They also have the added benefit of reviving derelict sites which have lain empty for two decades, rather than fundamentally altering this semi-rural section of Barrhead.

“It is made abundantly clear that housebuilding projects should not take place on greenfield sites where public transport links are relatively scarce.

“Allowing Gladman Developments to commence with their construction project would not contribute to the continued protection and enhancement of the greenbelt but would, in actual fact, severely erode it and potentially set the stage for more development in Barrhead, with potentially damaging effects for its greenfield sites.”

Mr Masterton pointed out to the council that should this be granted a further application for building on adjacent land would almost certainly be on the agenda.

He added: “I do note from the Design Statement submitted by Gladman Developments that the land controlled by the applicant actually extends beyond the proposed site. In light of this, it is entirely reasonable to suggest that if planning permission were granted in respect of these first 50 houses that there would likely be a second stage.”

Campaigners say the proposed site is currently home to many plants, trees and wildlife, including deer that frequent the land from the neighbouring Gleniffer Braes.

Mr Lagan told the Barrhead News: “We need to fight this proposal to build on greenbelt and destroy beautiful landscape and harm the inhabitants of this area.”

The area is currently not zoned for development in the Local Development Plan and there are already major developments at the derelict Shanks Park and the Cargo Depot Centre in Barrhead.

Mr Masterton added: “East Renfrewshire Council has already selected sites to provide housing for our community over the next five years through the Local Development Plan.

“They chose not to include this controversial site – an area which is used by local people for playing football, walking their dogs and a whole host of other activities.

“I have been contacted by many local people who are rightly concerned about this proposal and I would urge all of them to formally object if they have not done so already.

“Greenspaces which include the greenbelt are important for a community to use and should not be burdened with buildings.”

A spokesman for ERC said the local authority is continuing to stage consultations on the application.

He added: “Representations for any planning application that is to be determined by the Planning Applications Committee and received no later than a week before the committee date will be considered as part of the process.”

Gladman Developments have said their plans are “consistent with both the size and role of the settlement and with the historic growth pattern of the area.”

A spokesman added: “The application is also accompanied by supporting technical studies which demonstrates that the proposal does not have any adverse impacts which outweigh the benefits.

“There are also economic benefits arising from the development, accruing directly to the council and to the wider economy.”