£1m question hangs over Diosynth land

Diosynth site
Diosynth site

A landowner could lose a whopping £1 million if the compulsory purchase of the former Diosynth land in Buckhaven goes ahead.

In the next stage of a long-running battle, the future of the derelict Percival Road site is expected to be discussed by Fife’s councillors later this month.

Owner Janette Penman hopes to build 65 affordable homes and a care home on the site, while Fife Council wants the land to form part of a low-carbon investment park to complement Fife Energy Park.

Last year the authority agreed to proceed with a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to force Mrs Penman to sell the site but this has yet to be served by Scottish ministers.

Mrs Penman bought the land in 2007 for over £1.2 million, but the council- who says the site is crucial to the economic development of Levenmouth - has made her one offer of just £220,000.

Speaking as Mrs Penman’s representative to members of the central area planning committee recently, Alan Baxter from Davidson Baxter Partnership said: “The purchase price per acre offered by the Council for this site which is zoned for employment land is considered to be substantially less than current market values.”

Mrs Penman had bought the brownfield site before it was included in a strategic land allocation plan for employment purposes, he added.

Furthermore, the owner had since made numerous attempts to meet the Council half-way, all of which had been rejected.

“The client during the course of discussions has offered the Council 50 per cent of the development site at no cost to allow the Council to develop their concepts without the need for a CPO,” said Mr Baxter.

“A sum of £180,000 has also been offered to the Council by the clients for the loss of employment land.”

In addition, housing would provide a stepping stone to redevelopment in Buckhaven and had secured backing from local residents, he commented.

The Wemyss Estate owns land surrounding Mrs Penman’s site as well as the land on which Fife Energy Park is built.

Speaking on behalf of the trustees of Wemyss Estate, Alistair Wood from real estate firm Savills said they had been in talks with the Council for at least a decade and the Buckhaven site formed a crucial part of the area’s future.

“Terms have been agreed between Wemyss Estate and the council and a compulsory purchase order has been agreed,” he commented.

“This does not just impact on the local plan for employment oportunities, it has an impact on the whole of Fife.”

The committee will now be asked to form a view before referring the case to the full Council.

However, even if councillors agree to back the CPO, Mrs Penman is still entitled to appeal to the Scottish Government.