The Easdale brothers, who have the support of the nuns and the West End community for the proposed housing development at Clerkhill, overlooking the River Clyde.

By Bill Heaney

The Lennox Heritage Society claims developers planning to build 85 new homes on the site of the former Notre Dame convent and schools complex in Dumbarton’s West End  have paid “scant regard” to the history of the site.

And that supporters are rallying to their cause to halt the housing plan as the number of signatures on an online petition protesting against it has now reached more than 1,200.

Proposals for a development of three, four and five bedroom properties on the site of the former Notre Dame secondary and St Michael’s Primary School at Clerkhill were lodged by Slate Island Developments and Miller with West Dunbartonshire Council .

A petition, at Change.org, raised concern at the impact on mature trees on the site and on the sandstone cliffs at Havoc, currently listed by West Dunbartonshire Council as a “proposed local nature reserve”.

In its objection to the application, the Lennox Heritage Society, urged on by the SNP councillor Iain McLaren,  said: “The implications of the proposals on the sea cliff with its historic Havoc Hole and the natural environment are of great concern.  This area has very significant local, cultural and historic meaning.

“It is known to have been within the greater area that Robert the Bruce settled in the later years of his life; an area in later history becoming the Parish of Cardross.

“While the associations of both these major historic figures is based to some extent on local lore, such intangible cultural heritage is of the utmost important to the community.”

However, there are others who will see this differently, including the Carmelite nin who now live at Craigend, which was part of the Notre Dame complex.

The nuns welcome the housing development which they feel will give them far greater security by allowing them to have neighbours on the site which is in a dark, lonely place and perfectly fits the description of the site in Vale of Leven for which the council gave permission for 35 houses.

It is overgrown, has trees and bushes and weeds on the land that has been used by travellers as a halting site and has been utilised for fly dumping.

The applicants, the Easdale Brothers,  who have connections with Rangers Football Club, say there is “no intention to remove or destroy what is known locally as Wallace’s Cave”.

Lynsey Breen of Slate Island Developments Ltd said: “For the avoidance of doubt, there is no intention to remove or destroy what is known locally as Wallace’s Cave. The location and extent remains as existing and there will be no works done which will adversely affect the cave.

“Regarding the former Notre Dame Chapel, the former owners applied and secured permission for this building to be delisted prior to our purchase of the site. The chapel is in poor repair and is a danger to anyone who attempts to access it.

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