PLANS to build a £2 million state-of-the-art retirement village on Bute look set to be scrapped weeks after the island’s only elderly care home closed.

Property developers who were granted planning permission for the development four years ago say they are now on the verge of selling off the land instead, blaming council bureaucracy.

Husband and wife Carol and Ian Woollcott, from Bute, purchased the seafront plot in 2012 with a vision to create Ascog Park – a purpose-built retirement village featuring a 30-bed nursing home with specialist dementia facilities, en-suite rooms, gardens, a hairdressers and restaurant.

The project, designed by architects GD Lodge in collaboration with experts in dementia services from Stirling University, also included plans for 11 bungalows and a luxury sheltered housing complex.

But Mrs Woollcott, 56, said the couple are exasperated after “meeting after meeting with committee after committee”.

The gridlock hinges on a document known as a “letter of comfort”. The Woollcotts say they require a written guarantee from the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) pledging to refer elderly clients on the island to the facility.

Without this document, Mrs Woollcott said the bank will not loan them the cash to build it.

She said: “I said to them I would like to build it and I’m pretty sure people would use it, but I just need a letter of comfort because they could still send people to Dunoon and Greenock even though we’d have a brand new home sitting there. Everyone on the island wants it but I just don’t think it’s going to happen now. We just can’t hold on to all these land sites any more that are sitting doing nothing.”

Mrs Woollcott previously owned a small private care home on Bute during the 1980s, but said it had been forced to close after the then-Strathclyde council prioritised its own homes for referrals – even if it meant sending elderly people from Bute to the mainland.

The potential mothballing of Ascog Park comes just weeks after Craigard, Bute’s only elderly care home, was forced to close following legal action by the Care Inspectorate. Its 12 former residents have been relocated to homes in Erskine and Greenock, with one elderly man even offered a place on Tiree – an eight-hour car journey and two ferry rides from his family on Bute.

Meanwhile, Thomson Court, the island’s dementia daycare centre, is also under threat. The council wants to replace the eight-bed unit with care in the community and a volunteer befriender service, but the plan has faced fierce opposition from locals.

Jean Moffatt, a member of Bute community council, said Ascog Park would have been “a super thing” for the island, which has one of the largest over-60 populations in Scotland.

She said: “We have 84 cases of dementia on the books at the health centre and for every one of those I can tell you several more that haven’t been diagnosed yet. We need a care facility on the island because you cannot replace a robust full-day service with a one-hour volunteer ‘befriender’ service.”

It comes as two elderly care homes in mainland Argyll – Auchinlee in Campbeltown and Struan Lodge in Dunoon – also face potential closure in 2017.

Local MSP Mike Russell said it was “virtually certain” that Ascog Park would fill up.

He said: “I therefore hope the developers may be prepared to take the final step given the changed circumstances after the closure of Craigard. Certainly more places are needed and the present need for care to take place off the island is bad for the individuals, the families involved and is not positive for the island itself.”

An Argyll and Bute HSCP spokesman said it “would not be appropriate” to guarantee referrals to Ascog Park as “ to a variety of reasons including the fact thatit is the families not the HSCP who would decide on the preferred home for their relative and, at the same time, as the HSCP continues to implement the Scottish Government policy of shifting the balance of care this will continue to lead, when appropriate, to more care being provided to individuals within their own community/home rather than them having to be cared for within a care home”.