“EARLY signs are promising.”
So says GVA, which erected signs last week at Silverburn Park seeking offers from private investors.
It did so on instruction from Fife Council, which had for “a matter of weeks” been asking the agents to market Silverburn “to the big boys,” explained Cllr David Alexander.
“[The council] no longer has the resources to upgrade the buildings,“ explained the chair of Levenmouth area committee.
“We are open to negotiation and will see what the market asks for.”
Peter Smith of GVA confirmed the agency was looking to attract feedback from investors who supported leisure and tourism and “suited the aims of the community”.
“One of the essential features here is to maintain significant public access to the park but, because of the nature of the park, it is difficult for us to be prescriptive about how it should be divided up,” he said.
Silverburn estate was gifted to the council in 1974 in conjunction with the National Trust for Scotland subject to an agreement that “...the subject/properties should remain forever as a quiet area used for the benefit of the public in general; and the people of Leven in particular for nature trails, quiet parkland and organised camping.”
A conservation agreement also prohibits new building development.
Mr Smith acknowledged the condition of the park’s buildings posed considerable financial challenges.
“We have to take all that on board,” he said.
“The preference of the council is to offer leaseholds (to better control future development) but we are not ruling out other possibilities. In the absence of parties interested in leasing, we may have to consider options to buy.”
Peter Howden, the council’s development manager said: “This is not about selling the park off; it’s about us finding investment.
“The public will still be given access.”
Council criticised for acting alone
A LOCAL group has criticised Fife Council for leaving it in the dark over this latest marketing plan for Silverburn Park.
Members of Silverburn and Letham Glen Development Group were stunned to learn signs had been erected at the park last week.
Chairperson Ann Pitt, said: “At our last meeting in May we were told by Fife Council that it would be transparent and there would be clear communication regarding what happened at Silverburn Park.
“It was supposed to be marketed during the summer and there would be a local consultation taking place, which would include our group.
“We’ve had no notification since – to my knowledge – and the group is shocked that Silverburn Park would be considered for sale, if this turns out to be the case.”
A potential sale of parts of Silverburn was first mooted in a consultant’s report in 2006 but that proposal caused outrage among the local community.
The council assured locals the proposal was only an idea – albeit one that had cost £20,000 in fees.
Fife Council has been in talks with specialist property agents since 2007 to investigate ways to attract private investment to the park.
To that end, the council’s policy, finance and asset management committee approved offering Silverburn House, the former flax mill, and Corriemar on a long leasehold basis in 2009.
A subsequent planning brief was compiled by chartered surveyors in August last year.
Another year on – and six years since the first report – Fife Council has put the park “on the market”.
The Gate House Lodge and Silverburn Cottages are the only parts of the estate not available to investors.