James and Sandy Easdale hit over council’s decision on £100m plan for IBM site

FORMER Rangers shareholders James and Sandy Easdale have said they are “bitterly disappointed” by a council planning decision that could see the redevelopment of the former IBM site in Greenock halted.

Inverclyde Council’s planning committee today voted 5-4 to grant planning permission for 270 houses on the site – 40% lower than the 450 house development applied for.

The council’s decision on the £100m redevelopment, which would have created 418 full time equivalent jobs, follows a last gasp intervention from council officers recommending a reduction in houses despite the planning application having been submitted almost two years ago.

In a statement, Sandy and James Easdale said:”We are bitterly disappointed that Inverclyde may potentially lose the opportunity to see this brownfield site regenerated for the benefit of the local region.

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“We will speak to our construction partners and advisors in the days and weeks ahead but there is every chance that the project will no longer be economically viable at the scale approved by the council. We now need to consider the outcome in more detail prior to making any decisions.

“Years of preparatory work, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, went into deciding a suitable design for the scheme to bring residential and employment benefits to the area.

“We then submitted a planning application on this basis which has taken two years to reach this stage – only to be told by council officers just days before the committee meeting that the plans were not suitable. Our design for the scheme was not plucked out of thin air – it was one that made the plans commercially viable as a result of the substantial investment required to develop the site.


“We have no quarrel with councillors who made the decision on the basis of the information given to them following the last-minute interjection of council officials, and we recognise the difficult choice councillors faced.


“The Scottish Government published its Housing to 2040 strategy last year and made it clear that it wanted to see private investment to build the nation’s future housing stock. It is a shame that a can-do vision does not extend to the former IBM site.”


Alba councillor Chris McEleny said: “ I am bitterly disappointed at the decision to limit the amount of housing that can be built, a decision which may now make the project unviable. 


“ The impact means that the employment opportunities, and apprenticeships during construction, could now be lost. Further, the decision will cost Inverclyde Council around £700k per year in lost Council Tax Revenues. 


“ Recently the Planning Board approved a project at the former Inverkip Power Station for 600 houses despite there being hundreds of local objections. By contrast, the IBM project only had only 2 objections.

“It is a site that has been lying derelict since it’s Industrial potential ended. With a direct train link to Glasgow it had the potential to be a modern housing development that reduced the use of cars for commuting, as well as provide much needed housing for families to live in Inverclyde. 


“ I am disappointed that some of the objections voiced were again about the impact on a near by high school. The Council should be expanding the school estate to bring more people to live in Inverclyde if that’s what is required to address our depopulation crisis, instead we seem to be limiting a development because too many people will move to the area. 


“ I hope this anti development and anti investment decision does not now completely wreck the project.”





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