THE Scottish Government is set to rule on a controversial move by councillors to approve a housing development on greenbelt land in Kilmacolm.

Residents in the village branded a recent decision by councillors to allow MacTaggart and Mickel to build 78 houses at the Kilmacolm Meadow in Quarry Road as a 'betrayal'.

Now the application, which had attracted 500 objections, has been 'called in' by ministers - who will make the final decision.

The planning board will be told at an upcoming meeting that the case is of huge national significance.

A report by officials said: "On 5 July 2021 notification was received from the Scottish Ministers that they have directed the application be referred to them for determination.

"The Scottish Ministers consider the case raises issues of national significance with regard to the interpretation and application of Scottish Planning Policy, and in view of Inverclyde Council’s interest in the proposed development, to allow further scrutiny of the reasons for proposing to approve it as a significant departure from the development plan.

"The decision on the application by the Scottish Ministers will be final."

At the crunch May meeting elected members were divided on the decision to build the houses on a beauty spot.

Kilmacolm councillors Stephen McCabe and David Wilson opposed the application while the local authority deputy leader Jim Clocherty tabled an amendment in favour of granting permission for the development to meet a demand for housing.

In the end it passed by 8-4, with two abstentions.

Campaigners trying to save the green belt land immediately hit out at the decision.

The Kilmacolm Residents' Association told the Tele that they had fought volume housebuilders for years and but 'never thought that we'd be beaten by our own council'.

They highlighted a Court of Session ruling as a pivotal moment in the battle over the site.

Campaigner Bill Crookston said it effectively allowed a free-for-all because there was no housing land policy at the council.

But now the villagers have fresh hope that the decision could yet be reversed, with the final say falling to the government.