GREENOCK'S new £21m health centre will not open unless councillors are satisfied about how people can travel to and from the site.

Elected members voted on Wednesday to approve planning permission for the proposed Wellington Street medical facility - but only on the condition that NHS bosses provide a detailed public access and transport plan.

Officials from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) are concerned about the location of the new health centre because of a lack of buses serving the area, poor infrastructure such as no shelters and raised kerbs, and the steepness of surrounding pathways, particularly for people with mobility problems.

SPT requested that permission should only be granted subject to a travel plan from the health board addressing the issues raised.

Councillors on the planning board eventually voted unanimously in favour of the proposals and the request from transport bosses.

Ciano Rebecchi insisted that it should be elected members and not officials who have the final say on the travel plan, which will have to be given the green light before the new medical facility can open.

Mr Rebecchi said: "No matter where we build it, there's always going to be a problem.

"We need a new health centre."

Members spent 40 minutes debating the pros and cons of the former Wellington Academy site.

A shortage of 38 parking spaces in the area was highlighted as another stumbling block but ward councillor Colin Jackson, who grew up in Broomhill, stated that he could not understand what the fuss is about as he criticised council and SPT officials for a 'lack of local knowledge'.

He argued that there are plenty of free bays not being used in nearby Dempster Street and Nile Street, said the site is well-served by the Broomhill and Cornhaddock Street circular buses and that there is downhill as well as uphill access for those on foot.

Mr Jackson said: "I don't see that any of these concerns are an issue.

"I think SPT and officers should go and have a right good look at the area.

"They should have paid more attention and got out there.

"There's a real lack of local knowledge from officers.

"I know the Broomhill area very well.

"There's about 80 parking spaces which have not been identified.

"I welcome the investment and it will be great for Inverclyde to get this investment.

"If this health centre springs up overnight there's transport there and there are parking spaces.

"Any option to delay this would be detrimental."