MORE than 400 people have signed an online petition protesting at plans to build 85 new homes on the site of a former primary school in Dumbarton.

Proposals for a development of three, four and five bedroom properties on the site of the former St Michael’s Primary School in the west of the town have been lodged by Slate Island Developments and Miller with West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC).

It was announced last year that the site had been bought by brothers Sandy and James Easdale, owners of the McGill’s Buses firm.

The application documents say that permission has been secured to demolish the former Notre Dame Convent chapel on the site, which was badly damaged in a fire 10 years ago.

But the petition, at, raises concern at the impact on mature trees at the site and on the sandstone cliffs at Brucehill, currently listed by WDC as a “proposed local nature reserve”.

The plans show the sandstone cliff to the rear of Wallace’s Cave being dug out to build a flood prevention scheme, and the trees on top of it and along the clifftop past the chapel, cut down.

In a supporting statement lodged with WDC, planning specialists Barton Willmore say: “Our ambition is to create a high-quality place in which a mix of family homes integrate positively with areas of publicly accessible open space, all of which respond to the key characteristics of the site, its landscape and the local area.

“The proposed site layout is driven by placemaking and seeks to connect the proposed development with the established residential areas adjacent to the site and wider Dumbarton area through the creation of multi-functional spaces.

“This will provide amenity for residents whilst ensuring the response is sensitive to the site’s location.”

As the Reporter went to press, the online petition had been signed by 418 people, while 12 people had lodged objections at WDC’s website, though there had also been three expressions of support.

Kirsty O’Malley said: “My private back garden will be overlooked by homes from what I can see on the planning which I believe will affect the enjoyment of my garden which is currently very quiet and peaceful.

“I feel that this will impact both our privacy and right to enjoy our garden in peace.”

Margaret Greene, chair of the Strathclyde Geoconservation Group, said: “The cliff at Havoc Hole is old red sandstone, from the Devonian period (300-330 million years ago) and is the most accessible exposure of its type west of Glasgow.”

Ms Greene said the proposals would “result in considerable overburden of the cliff being excavated, as well as the removal of the tree cover in that area”.

But Cardross Road resident Elaine McMurray said she backed the development, telling WDC in her submission: “This area has long been used as a fly tipping site and for anti social behaviour.

"It would be good to see a private development at this side of the town.”