PLANS for a new mosque in a Glasgow suburb could pave the way for hundreds of houses to be built on greenbelt land.

The Evening Times has learned that a group known as Muslims of East Renfrew- shire is to be handed a £2million plot in Newton Mearns free of charge.

It is hoped the deal will smooth the way for a housing development at Patterton Farm, a greenbelt site near the station.

The area's 3000 Muslims have long fought for a mosque in Newton Mearns, but a campaign against proposals to build near Eastwood High School was hijacked by far-right extremists the Scottish Defence League.

The planning application was blocked by East Renfrewshire Council earlier this year.

But a corner of 40-acre Patterton Farm has now emerged as a site.

Rukhsar Ahmed, general secretary of Muslims of East Renfrewshire, said: "There is now the possibility of an Islamic Centre at Patterton Farm in Newton Mearns.

"We are in the process of finalising the entity and the organisation around it that would hopefully drive the project.

"We are looking at middle of August to have things in the right state to engage with local community and other stakeholders."

Administrators KPMG took control of the site when land development firm Elphinstone Estates went bust in 2010.

An East Renfrewshire Council insider, who asked not to be named, explained: "KPMG is the liquidator for Elphinstone, which had a deal with the farmer to get planning permission.

"An agreement has now been reached with KPMG that an application will be submitted for 300 to 400 houses.

"Two acres will be handed over free of charge to the Muslim community to build a mosque.

"The application is imminent and KPMG is clever enough to know they need to give the council a carrot, because it is greenbelt land.

"It is not in the local plan but the council could probably cope with a few hundred houses there, if it solves the problem of where to put a mosque."

A source close to a house builder which is eyeing the site said it was "all tied up" but that the developer was still unknown. They added: "You are talking about serious money for that land - up to £1m an acre."

Blair Nimmo, joint administrator and head of restructuring at KPMG in Scotland said: "We are supportive of proposals from the Muslim community to create a mosque in East Renfrewshire.

"This would form part of a broader development of the East Patterton area in Newton Mearns.

"We are in discussions with a number of interested parties."