A DECISION on plans to restore one of East Renfrewshire's most historic buildings as part of a new retirement village has been delayed to allow a site visit.

Planning officials at East Renfrewshire Council had recommended the Caldwell House project could be approved, despite concerns over the number of trees set to be chopped down and the impact on health services.

However, councillors have narrowly voted in favour of visiting the greenbelt site, near Uplawmoor, before reaching a decision.

Caldwell Developments believes it is the “last chance” to save the derelict Robert Adam-designed building, which would become 15 assisted living flats, and wants to fund the restoration with an enabling development.

That would see a new village on the Caldwell Estate, exclusively for over-55s, which would include a 60-bed care home, 51 assisted living flats and 122 bungalows, as well as offices, a cafe, a shop and a hair and beauty salon.

A planning report concluded the benefits of restoring the Grade A-listed Caldwell House "outweigh the environmental and other impacts.”

East Renfrewshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has raised concerns over “the addition of unfunded costs for health and social care provision resulting from such a large development” and “persistently high vacancy rates at existing care home facilities.”

In addition, Scottish Forestry has said it is “not supportive” of the plans due to deforestation, while the Woodland Trust also “strongly objects on the basis of damage and loss to a number of areas of woodland.”

Bob Salter, on behalf of the agent for Caldwell Developments, argued “significant weight” must be given to saving the listed building and said the proposal was “by far the most sustainable option we could propose.”

“Approval of the application creates important economic, job and community benefits for this rural part of East Renfrewshire,” he added.

However, Councillor Annette Ireland said: “I cannot agree with the amount of destruction of irreplaceable biodiversity that this development proposes.”

Councillor Betty Cunningham, chair of the planning committee, suggested a site visit, which was passed by eight votes to seven.

The cost of restoring Caldwell House and the estate is expected to be around £15m, with developers saying 85 jobs would be created.