DISGRUNTLED residents have launched a petition against plans for a £13m housing development in Greenock.

A group of local campaigners are angry about a proposal from The Link Group to build 198 homes at the former Ravenscraig Hospital site.

They claim the land is not suitable as it is 'infested' with Japanese Knotweed.

They have also raised concerns about asbestos at the site.

Bosses at Link have insisted they will treat the Japanese Knotweed and remove the asbestos but the residents, who have submitted a petition to Inverclyde Council, remain unconvinced.

Alan Cumming, who is leading a campaign against the plans, said: "Before any disturbance, be it demolition, tree felling or building is even considered, the area requires to be chemically treated, which takes time and can be a huge undertaking.

"Even a small, visible area of knotweed contains a much larger underground network.

"Anything other than the use of government approved chemicals would endanger the surrounding properties, road network and infrastructure."

The residents feel that the site is not suitable for housing due to a lack of amenities - and that the proposal ignores the rich history of the location.

Elizabeth MacInnes said: "Health and wellbeing studies show that social housing should be near the town and amenities."

The residents say they have not been properly consulted about the development and believe a public meeting should have been held in the town hall.

But The Link Group have defended their proposal and consultation arrangements.

A spokesman from Link said: "Following a site investigation, we became aware of Japanese Knotweed and asbestos on the former site of Ravenscraig Hospital – where we plan to develop 198 affordable homes.

"Our proposals include the appropriate treatment of the Japanese Knotweed and removal of the asbestos, and all works will be carried out by licensed contractors in accordance with the necessary statutory consents and government guidance.

“As with all our developments, these proposals are a result of extensive planning and public consultation.

"In April 2018, we invited residents to a drop-in event to view plans for the development and to provide feedback on the proposals.

“Over 400 households local to the site were sent letters inviting them to the drop-in event and an advert was placed in the Greenock Telegraph.”

The proposed development would include a mix of flats and houses and 19 wheelchair accessible properties.

Developers plan to build 149 homes for social rent by March 2021, followed by a second phase.

Half of the homes would be managed by Larkfield Housing Association, a Link Group subsidiary, with the other managed by Oak Tree Housing Association.

As part of the project, a new signalled junction on Inverkip Road is also proposed.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: "The planning process is still open for comments and representations.

"Residents or any other interested parties who want to have their say on this planning application can do it easily online through the council’s planning portal which is situated on the council website at www.inverclyde.gov.uk."