Bishopbriggs residents turned out in force to a public meeting as a campaign group stepped up its bid to halt a controversial housing development at Jellyhill.
It was standing room only at the meeting at Meadowburn Primary School hall, organised by Save Bishopbriggs Canal Greenspace Group.
Speakers included Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, widely recognised as Scotland’s leading historian, who is supporting the campaign group’s bid to halt the 135-home development by CALA Homes.
Despite a record-breaking 569 objections from the public and a rejection of the housing plan by East Dunbartonshire Council’s planning board, the independent Reporter to the Scottish Government granted CALA Homes’ application.
An online petition, set up by the campaign group, calling for a moratorium on the development until a planning review is complete, has now amassed more than 2,100 signatures.
After the meeting, Sir Tom said: “For me this packed meeting was a revelation. I was aware of the local reasons why the community in Bishopbriggs is rightly opposed to the CALA Homes proposal for the unacceptable building development adjacent to the Forth and Clyde Canal, a scheduled ancient monument.
“Before today, however, I had little knowledge of our iniquitous planning laws which are anti-democratic in the extreme and were described in detail by several speakers.
“These are currently under review and vital reforms, as I understand, are supported by Labour, Greens and Lib Dems.
“It dismays me very much that Kevin Stewart, Minister of Housing and Local Government, has already opposed these long-overdue changes which would give more power to local communities and hence balance their rights against those of private companies.”
Strathkelvin MSP Rona Mackay and West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer also attended the meeting and have jointly written to the Housing Minister requesting a moratorium on the controversial decision until the planning review, expected to be published before this summer, is complete.
Ms Mackay said: ‘This was a very well-organised and well-attended public meeting and I wholeheartedly agree with campaigners this planning decision must be stopped.
“Although this decision was taken independently of the Minister, I urge him to intervene and implement a moratorium on this planning decision until the current Planning Review has reached its completion.”
Mr Greer added: “The community have done absolutely everything right in this process. Right now a planning bill is going through parliament and despite the government’s objections an amendment will be lodged to give communities a right of appeal, something currently afforded only to developers.
“If we don’t change the system we will be here time and again as profit-driven developers ride roughshod over residents.”
A spokesperson for the campaign group said the appeal decision was an affront to democracy and added: “How can one man who is unelected, mostly anonymous, disregard the wishes of 569 householders and their democratically elected officials? It is evident that the planning laws in Scotland are unjust. We call for a moratorium.
“His report is thoroughly flawed and is largely based on opinion, not fact. At the time of the appeal a public hearing was called for in order for the community to be heard, but the Reporter refused. The concerns of the community have been disregarded.”