JUDGES at Scotland’s highest civil court have thrown out part of Inverclyde’s Local Development Plan (LDP) after a group of five housing developers challenged the blueprint.

Mactaggart and Mickel Homes, Miller Homes, Cala Management, Persimmon Homes and Wallace Land Investment and Management appealed against Inverclyde Council’s decision to adopt the plan in the Court of Session, on the basis it did not provide sufficient land for housing.

Judges agreed with the developers and quashed the housing chapter entitled Our Homes and Communities, a decision which has sparked concern from a local councillor whose ward covers the specific area called into question.

After the developers disputed the plan, a reporter was appointed by the Scottish Government to examine, report on and make recommendations about the proposals.

But judges concluded the examination report and, subsequently, the housing chapter, were 'materially flawed'.

The reporter was found by the court to have made an error in his assessment of how much land the LDP provided for private development in the area in the five-year timescale covered by the plan.

The Court of Session judgement stated: “The examination report contains a number of material errors.

“It did not resolve the dispute on methodology, which it required to do in order to see whether there was an effective five-year supply of housing in terms of Scottish planning policy.

“It did not answer the critical question on whether the private tenure Housing Land Requirement in the different market areas would, on the basis of the LDP, be likely to be met.

“The report, and consequently, chapter 7.0, Our Homes and Communities, of the LDP, upon which it is based, is equally materially flawed.

“The prejudice to the appellants [the developers] in not having sufficient sites for house building is self-evident.

"The appropriate remedy is to allow the appeal and to quash only that chapter of the LDP.”

The remainder of the development plan will remain in place.

Inverclyde Council has said it is considering what to do following the judgement.

Ewan MacLeod, partner at commercial law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, which represented the developers, has described the decision as 'extremely important' and that it could have implications right across the country.

He said: “The reporter altered the requirements and took a broad brush approach on whether enough land was available over a 10-year period to meet one of those altered requirements. 

"He ignored or disregarded evidence from Homes for Scotland that showed not enough housing land had been allocated.

“The court’s judgement will ensure other councils now allocate sufficient land to meet the needs of the people who live or want to live in their areas.”

The developers’ concerns about there not being enough land identified for housing related particularly to Kilmacolm and Quarrier’s Village, where a number of potential greenbelt developments have been opposed by campaigners.

Councillor Chris Curley, who represents Inverclyde East, said he was 'disappointed' in the court’s decision.

He said: “I voted against the release of more greenbelt land for housing as I was not convinced there was a significant under-provision in the LDP.

"I was not prepared to rip up the greenbelt for a ’rounding error’ and I remain of that view.

"I will await reports from council officers to see what the next steps will be.”

A council spokesman said: “We are considering the detail of the decision of the Court of Session.”