A CRUNCH decision on whether to sell two areas of public land in Gourock for housing has been delayed.

Councillors have stalled on a proposal to sell land at Kirn Drive off to a developer.

The areas in question are the former blaes football pitch and grassed area near the community hall at the foot of the street, and a triangular site beside Moorfoot Primary School at the top end.

The council say that the former St Ninian's Primary site in Staffa Street - which has been cleared - may also be sold off and developed as public open space.

There are plans to widen parts of Kirn Drive to accommodate increased traffic and ease the bottleneck conditions which already exist, but local residents are unhappy about the prospect of more new housing in the neighbourhood and fear it will cause chaos.

Gourock councillor Ronnie Ahlfeld has also raised concerns about the plans.

Speaking at a Municipal Buildings meeting, he said: "I really understand, 100 per cent, the points that the local objectors make.

"I think that this should be an area for planning [to decide on] as we are talking about green space."

Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "I can understand why Councillor Ahlfeld feels the representations made are planning issues.

"But unfortunately we are the land owners.

"At the end of the day, we can stop this development plan by not selling the land and we wouldn't get any further hassle in the planning process.

"Or we can say 'no, for the greater good we need more quality housing in Inverclyde which is going to keep people here'.

"We have to make the decision in light of these representations and be mindful of them.

"If we agree to proceed these issues will come back up.

"These are the issues and we are the landowners.

"It's a hard decision but unfortunately that is why we are here."

But Cllr Ahlfeld argued that solving the existing traffic problems at Kirn Drive should be the priority.

He said: "You can't go ahead with this until you solve the road problem.

"In the event that we decide to sell this land, we all know that there are two old mine shafts.

"What happens, would there be work to establish whether these mine shafts are safe to build on?"

A council official replied: "That would be part of a site investigation and ground survey as part of a planning application."

Cllr Ahlfeld added: "So there could well be a situation if you sold the land then the developer then goes on the site and finds out he can't proceed?"

The officer replied: "Yes that is certainly a possibility."

After a lengthy debate councillors decided to defer making a decision until officials prepare a further report for them on the proposal.