Newburgh community rails against housing plans

The new distillery under construction at Lindores Abbey is one mark of a community on the up.
The new distillery under construction at Lindores Abbey is one mark of a community on the up.

Newburgh has become the latest Fife community to rail against FIFEplan, the new development strategy for the Kingdom.

Last week around 50 members of the community attended a public meeting in the town after it became apparent that proposals for around 300 new homes had been confirmed in the plan.

David Mathieson, who was part of the Newburgh Sustainable Housing Campaign (NSHC) which opposed plans for 380 houses contained in 2005’s Fife structure plan, said this week that neither Fife Council nor Scottish Government planners the DPEA, who amended and approved FIFEplan, had consulted properly with the community.

The 2014 Fife Local Development Plan proposed 275 new homes in the town.

And residents attending the public meeting questioned why, if the council already proposed to build 225 houses, more had been added.

“They never came and asked us first what we think is best for the community,” Mr Mathieson told the Herald, “This is being imposed on us.”

He listed other concerns from the public meeting, including accusations that plans for the houses on Cupar Road had been developer-led and that the community needed the right number of houses in the right location.

Local Fife councillor Andy Heer was more sanguine about the situation: “No one is going to walk in tomorrow and start the process of building houses – no one has applied for permission to build the houses already proposed in the existing local plan.”

Cllr Heer was concerned that Newburgh and its neighbouring settlements should retain their separate identities: “I would not like to see a continuation of Newburgh up to Burnside and beyond. I think it is important for the identity of these settlements that they are kept separate.”

He was positive about Newburgh, listing new developments including the distillery at Lindores Abbey and plans for a brewery at Parkhill on the outskirts of the town.

“On the whole Newburgh is on the up,” Cllr Heer added.

But he shared Mr Mathieson’s disappointment at comments contained in the DPEA’s report that eastern and south-eastern parts of Newburgh were: “unattractive, untidy and ragged.”

However, the report goes on to comment that the area: “provides an opportunity to improve and rationalise the boundary at this important gateway to the settlement.”

It also considers that “reasonable separation” is provided between the eastern edge Newburgh and Burnside.

Despite this, Mr Mathieson insisted: “Why didn’t the Scottish Government reporter come and discuss these concerns with the local community?”