CONTROVERSIAL plans for a major housing development in Renfrewshire have been thrown out by councillors.

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS), in partnership with Miller Homes, applied for permission to demolish the sports pitches, student accommodation and Robertson Sports Centre at its Thornly Park campus, in Paisley, to make way for the 179-home development.

The proposal received 116 objections and a petition was signed by 1,160 people urging Renfrewshire Council to refuse the blueprint.

Miller Homes said the proposals had been “well-considered” and it had taken feedback into account through an extensive consultation exercise.

But elected members opted to reject the application at a planning board meeting this week.

Officers had recommended the plans be refused ahead of the meeting, citing the fact the applicant would not be providing any affordable homes on the site.

They said this meant the proposal did not comply with a key policy of the Proposed Renfrewshire Local Development Plan, which requires all housing developments above a certain size to provide a proportion of affordable homes.

While councillors agreed on this point, planning board convener Marie McGurk added that the application did not include an appropriate safe route to school.

Campaign group Save Paisley’s Green Space, which launched the petition, submitted a 35-page dossier of evidence to the council, outlining reasons why the site was not suitable for housing.

And while the group, which is dedicated to preserving open land in the south of the town, was delighted to receive the support of councillors, members insisted there were many other issues that could have been put forward as reasons for refusal.

A spokeswoman for Save Paisley’s Green Space said: “We are pleased this application has been refused.

“The reasons for refusal are important ones. However, there are many other issues with this application that will have implications for the Paisley South community if granted at a future appeal stage.

“The development would have a permanent adverse impact on native woodland, wildlife, traffic, road infrastructure, climate change and would lead to the loss of remaining accessible natural open green space enjoyed by the community.

"These are also valid and important reasons to refuse this application.”

Had permission been granted, the development would have largely consisted of four and five-bed detached homes, with some semi-detached and terraced properties.

A variety of concerns were highlighted by objectors, including the negative effect it could have on education and medical facilities, as well as green space and wildlife.

Save Paisley’s Green Space asked councillors to consider the effect the development would have on a sizeable bat population and many other species of bird.

The group also said historic features such as the former Thornly Park Industrial School would be knocked down.

A report by planning bosses stated: “The proposals do not demonstrate how they meet the local housing need and demand, nor do they provide a mix of housing types and tenures to meet current and future housing needs and support sustainable mixed communities.

“In addition, the proposed development does not provide up to 25 per cent affordable housing, as set out in Policy P3 [of the Proposed Local Development Plan].”

Miller Homes said it was unable to comment on the decision at this time.