A multi-million pound housing project backed by football hero Graeme Souness faces being scuppered by medieval farmers.

An archaeologist has warned that numerous structures dating back hundreds of years will be destroyed if planning permission is granted for Europark in Lanarkshire.

We revealed four years ago that ex- Rangers and Scotland star Souness and his son Fraser had teamed up with members of the wealthy Gillespie mining dynasty to develop the site, close to Airdrie and the M8.

Their firm – Orchard Brae Limited – wanted to build 2600 homes on land owned by daughters of the late Tory Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw.

Former Rangers player manager Souness, 68, is a significant shareholder in the company, while Fraser, 40, is a director.

The development stalled after widespread opposition from local people, furious at the loss of greenbelt land.

Now the proposals have been revised and the developers say they are confident they will win over the objectors.

Orchard Brae promises a £364 million investment, creating 789 jobs and another 4290 during the construction phase.

The development stalled after widespread opposition from local people
The development stalled after widespread opposition from local people

But, in a written submission to North Lanarkshire Council, archaeology adviser Dr Murray Cook urged the authority to reject the planning application pending possible excavation work on the site.

He stated: “A cursory review of the available historic maps reveals a wealth of remains, including farmsteads, many of which may have medieval remains of potentially national significance.

“There are also 19th century mining remains that form a key aspect of the area’s history, and the former designed landscape for Woodhall House.

“These are significant and numerous remains, all of which would be destroyed by the
proposed development.”

Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard called for the expert’s claim to be probed.

He said: “This must be investigated and the plans halted.”

“Fundamentally, these proposals to concrete over more of our precious green belt are wrong. They go against local and national planning policies and must be withdrawn entirely.

“The developers appear to be claiming both that this is not proper green belt and that their plans will protect the green belt. They are trying to take people for fools.”

However, there is significant backing from people who welcome the economic spin-offs it would bring.