COUNCILLORS have reacted with delight to the decision to refuse plans to turn an Auchtermuchty hotel into a ‘homeless hostel’.
Members of Fife Council’s north east area committee last week voted unanimously to reject an application for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence for the Forest Hills Hotel.
The town centre landmark would have been turned into bed and breakfast accommodation for up to 19 council-referred homeless people.
Committee members Donald Lothian and David MacDiarmid, both councillors for the Howe of Fife and Tay Coast ward, welcomed the decision.
Councillor Lothian said: “This is without doubt the right outcome and I am very glad my motion for refusal was agreed by the committee.
“The main reasons for refusal were that the building was not suitable and that an HMO of this size is too big, particularly for a community the size of Auchtermuchty.
“There were also clear issues of loss of residential amenity including overlooking residential properties.”
He added that the plans may have been viewed in a different light had the HMO application been for three or four bedrooms, rather than 11.
Councillor MacDiarmid said he was “never in any doubt” the application would be refused.
He went on: “In my opinion we were being asked to approve something that was flawed in many ways.
“Although the committee agreed that facilities for the homeless had to be found, imposing potential problems on a small town like Auchtermuchty is just asking for trouble.
“These folk need to live in towns where they would benefit from facilities such as vital transport links, shops and work.
“This community was being ignored, with no thoughts at all about how this would affect the ‘Muchty folk.
“I seriously hope lessons have been learned.”
Auchtermuchty and Strathmiglo Community Council — which objected to the plans — also welcomed the news.
Chair David Cowling said: “We believe the application was misplaced and took little account of the impact of the proposal upon the wider Auchtermuchty community.
“Congratulations also to those local people who have campaigned so hard on this issue, and who were present in the County Hall to see the unanimous decision taken.”