A PREFERRED bidder has been chosen to take over a former Gourock boatyard site.

The Cardwell Bay Association of Small Boat Owners have emerged as the frontrunners for the vacant McLean’s Yard in Cove Road.

It comes after a meeting of the Gourock Regeneration Forum on Monday afternoon.

Three interested parties — the boat owners, Gourock Schools and Churches Together and a group wanting to establish a maritime education centre — all made a pitch for why they should be allowed to develop the site.

The Tele understands the Cardwell Bay Association have been chosen as the preferred bidders and will now be recommended to Inverclyde Council’s environment and regeneration committee for final approval.

Gourock councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld, who chairs the forum, refused to comment on the chosen applicant but said all bids were ‘impressive’ and that he is working to accommodate all three groups.

Mr Ahlfeld said: “In terms of the agreement with the regeneration committee, we will be making a recommendation based on the consensus of opinions from the forum.

“However, at the last committee it was decided that if a favourite emerged we would look at alternatives for the other two groups.

“Regardless of who is successful, I’m working with fellow Gourock councillor Lynne Quinn to accommodate all three proposals and hopefully offer them some alternatives.

“In terms of adding value to the community, all three have merit.”

Also at the meeting were councillors and representatives from the council, regeneration firm Riverside Inverclyde, community councils and Gourock traders’ associations.

The local authority put the prime waterfront site, near Tarbet Street, up for sale a year ago but the move prompted anger as the plot is designated ‘common good’ land for the benefit of the town and residents.

That prompted a public consultation on the redevelopment with bids invited from interested parties.

The boat owners want to use the yard for leisure and storage space while Gourock Schools and Churches Together are keen to create a community garden and the final group want to create a marine education centre in partnership with a college.

A council spokesman said: “It is important that any potential development of the former McLean’s boat yard is fully discussed with the community as it is common good land.

“The latest community engagement has been with the Gourock Regeneration Forum just this week.

“The feedback from the consultations and presentations to the forum will come back to the committee for final review before any decision is made.”