THE housing developer set to build 200 new homes at the old Ravenscraig Hospital no longer needs to upgrade a railway bridge at the site before starting work.

Link Housing Association have successfully argued that the requirement to bring it up to scratch beforehand would mean a major delay in the construction of the new social houses.

Now the planning board has granted them permission to upgrade the bridge, which is to be adopted by Inverclyde Council, at the same time as building the homes.

Former Provost Ciano Rebecchi moved for a bond to be put in place to guarantee work on the bridge is completed, but was narrowly defeated in a vote.

Councillor Ciano Rebecchi said: "The council has had problems with developers in the past in this situation and I think everyone should be treated the same.

"I think in some cases it has taken nine years to get roads in a state to be adopted.

"I think we should have a bond in place.

"If they can't do this then they shouldn't put be building houses."

At an earlier planning board Link Housing was granted permission to build on the Ravenscraig site, which has come under scrutiny because of toxic contamination on the land, with a whole string of conditions attached.

One of those was a requirement to complete work on the railway bridge before work starts on the houses, so that it can be adopted by Inverclyde Council.

Network Rail will only remain responsible for the structure up until the point it becomes part of a housing development.

Link Housing came back to planners just weeks later, asking for a change in the condition, with officers recommending approval by the planning board.

Councillor Gerry Dorrian, who serves the ward in question along with Cllr Rebecchi, also backed his calls at the meeting for a bond.

They were joined by board members John Crowther, Jim McEleny and Tommy McVey.

But the amendment to approve the change in the condition was carried by votes from Jim Clocherty, Colin Jackson, Drew McKenzie and Martin Brennan and vice convenor Innes Nelson's casting vote.

Planning board convenor David Wilson had stepped down from the chair for the application.

He sat on the Link Housing board for eight years until resigning this year and has spoken publicly is in favour of the houses being built at Ravenscraig.

Mr Wilson remains on the board of Larkfield Housing Association, which is owned by Link, and the organisation will maintain the sprawling site when construction is finished.

Under the changes agreed to by the planning board, Link must upgrade the bridge before the first resident moves in.