Appeal verdict ends fight to save Leslie House

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The fight to save one of Fife’s most historic buildings has been lost, say campaigners, after a decision to give the go-ahead to a controversial housing development.

A Scottish Government Reporter has upheld an appeal made by Muir Homes over Fife Council’s rejection in August 2015 of its plans to build 28 homes in the former grounds of Leslie House.

Cllr Morrison is disappointed by the Scottish Government reporter's ruling

Cllr Morrison is disappointed by the Scottish Government reporter's ruling

The decision, campaigners say, effectively “cuts loose” the grade-A listed former home of the Earl of Rothes, and has “consigned it to ruin.’’

“The battle is lost,” said campaigner Richard Graves.

The property, built in 1667, has been in a dilapidated state since a fire damaged the building in February 2009.

Council planners had rejected the application because an enabling development clause - directing profits from the sale of the completed properties to help fund the restoration, which was in an earlier planning approval for 12 houses in 2008, - was not included.

However reporter Rob Huntley, highlighted in his decision that funding towards restoration had already been paid as part of the original planning approval.

In addition he said there was “no clear evidence” that further cross subsidy funding was necessary and took account of Fife Council’s view that an additional contribution would not be likely to achieve the restoration.

However, as part of a number of new conditions, Muir Homes will not be allowed to build the final five houses until any restoration of Leslie House is completed.

“Our only hope now is that that is enough to put the developer off, “said Mr Graves.

Mary Stewart,from Fife Council said there were still legal agreements to be signed before any formal approval was to be granted .

“The agreement is to secure a contribution of £36000 towards providing affordable housing off site and £8000 towards strategic transport improvements,” she explained.

“He has given a six week period for this agreement to be concluded after which he will review whether planning permission should be refused or granted without the legal agreement.

“A final decision will only be issued if and when the legal agreement is concluded.”