A CONTROVERSIAL greenbelt housing development which attracted almost 500 objections has been dramatically approved by councillors.

MacTaggart and Mickel have been successful in their bid to build 78 homes at Kilmacolm Meadow west of Quarry Road in Kilmacolm.

Officials had recommended approving the application and it was also backed by the planning board before a full council meeting had the final say.

Elected members decided to give the housebuilders the go-ahead despite 487 public objections.

The council 'released' the greenbelt for housing as part of its new local development plan just two weeks ago - meaning the bid to build 58 private properties and 20 affordable homes was no longer contrary to the blueprint.

Municipal Buildings officials say there is a housing shortage in the Renfrewshire sub-market area and that the Meadow is the preferred site for new housing as it has 'less visual impact on the village, less amenity impact and protects the erosion of greenbelt.'

Council leader Stephen McCabe, whose ward covers Kilmacolm, opposed the application and tabled a motion to reject it.

He said: "The council rejected permission for an application on Planetreeyetts for eight reasons, most of these reasons could equally apply to west of Quarry Road.

"One site is included in the proposed local development plan and one is not.

"I cannot support building a development in this location."

Councillor McCabe said the application was contrary to a strategic development plan and significantly contrary to the adopted 2019 local development plan.

He added: "The identification of a shortfall of 100 houses is not significant justification to build on greenbelt."

Speaking after the meeting, Mr McCabe told the Telegraph: "The land in question is part of the greenbelt, we need an exceptionally good reason to justify that [development] and there is no good reason to justify it.

"There is an identified shortfall in housing land in the Renfrewshire sub-market but a surplus of land overall - there is no need to release additional land around Kilmacolm.

"The site is in the proposed development plan which is going out to public consultation.

"The application for west of Quarry Drive was in the previous housing of the local development plan, which was quashed by the Court of Session.

"Officers and other councillors are anxious to avoid the council ending up in court again."

Councillor Jim Clocherty tabled the amendment in favour of granting the application.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: "Over the years, numerous developers have stated there has not been enough housing in the Renfrewshire sub-market.

"The council itself had a decision against it at the Court of Session and had to redo the local development plan.

"These 78 homes will allow the council to ensure the greenbelt surrounding Kilmacolm is protected.

"I know the residents in Kilmacolm will not be happy with the decision.

"I think they have got to understand the council's position and take cognisance of a planner's recommendation."

Cllr Clocherty's motion was seconded by Councillor Elizabeth Robertson.

Only councillors who have had training in planning, the conduct of a quasi-judicial body, and who had observed the planning board meeting - held last week - were allowed to vote.

Twelve out of 22 councillors voted.

Councillor Chris Curley, who had been in favour at the planning board meeting, voted against at the full council.

The application was approved by 8-4 with two abstentions, while three councillors also gave their apologies.

Councillor David Wilson, who voted against the development, is unhappy at the decision.

He said: "I have serious reservations about ground clearance and the rock underneath and the disruptions this will cause to our constituents."