RESIDENTS of Gateside were jubilant this week after plans to create a caravan park in the heart of the village were decisively rejected.
Members of north east Fife area committee unanimously refused an application to turn an area of farmland just off the busy A91 into a 50-pitch site four tourers and motorhomes.
The proposal had sparked a storm of protest, prompting 39 objections and a petition signed by more than 100 of the village’s 250-strong population.
Despite the strength of local feeling, Fife Council planning officials had recommended approval of the plans, but the local authority’s transportation services recommended refusal amid concerns about the site’s access on to the main road, which is notorious for speeding motorists.
Planning officer Mary Stewart conceded that the applicant, Simon Wilson, had not been able to show there was a clear demand for a caravan site in Gateside, but had provided ‘anectodal’ evidence that it would boost local tourism.
She said that despite concerns about the impact of the proposed development on the village and the road safety issue, it was considered that ‘on balance’ it was appropriate to approve the application, which sought a change of use of the 1.98-hectare woodland site at Edenshead.
However none of the arguments in favour were enough to convince the committee and the motion to refuse the application, which was put forward by Councillor Donald Lothian, was carried unopposed.
Councillor Lothian said that there were three other caravan parks within 10 miles of Edenshead and there was no need for another.
He also shared the concerns of transportation services in terms of road safety and felt that the site may be contrary to the Local Plan.
Two years ago, the site was the subject of an objection made by Mr Wilson to the Local Plan on the basis that a caravan park wasn’t included.
It was considered by a Scottish Government Reporter who concluded that the Plan need not be modified - a conclusion interpreted by council planners as suggesting that the Reporter agreed with their view that the potential for a caravan site could be explored by means of a planning application.
Follwing Wednesday’s meeting, Jill Pettigrew of Gateside Community Association said that villagers were ‘delighted’ with the decision.