Politicians pledge support for Cupar North challenge

MSPs Willie Rennie and Murdo Fraser with Cupar Community Council chairman Gina Logan (Pic: Dave Scott)
MSPs Willie Rennie and Murdo Fraser with Cupar Community Council chairman Gina Logan (Pic: Dave Scott)

Local MSPs have vowed to try to persuade Scotland’s housing minister to reject or at least modify plans for a ‘behemoth’ of a housing development in Cupar.

More than a hundred people turned up at the town’s Corn Exchange on Saturday morning to voice their concerns about the controversial Cupar North proposals, which would see some 1400 houses and other facilities built on a swathe of green belt to the north of the town.

They were given a sympathetic hearing by Willie Rennie, MSP for North East Fife, and Murdo Fraser, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, who pledged their support for the campaigners.

They are to seek a meeting with minister for housing and local government Kevin Stewart, who has the final responsibility for signing off the FifePlan, which includes Cupar North.

Mr Rennie told the Fife Herald that there was still time to ‘shape the process’ and it was possible to stop it or minimise it.

“I have direct experience of the expansion of Dunfermline,” he said.

“The town’s streets were covered in mud for years and planning of infrastructure such as schools and health services was really difficult.

“We ended up with a situation where families living next door to each other were going to different schools and different health centres.”

Mr Fraser was also concerned about the infrastructure issues.

“You can’t put the cart before the horse,” he said.

“Fife Council must ensure the infrastructure is in place first. Otherwise the developers can just whack up the houses, pocket the profit and off they go.”

The consortium of developers behind Cupar North – Persimmon Homes, Headon Developments and Vico Properties – did not attend the event, saying they were still refining the blueprint, while Fife Council’s planners also gave their apologies as they felt it was ‘not appropriate’ to attend while the application was live.

They were criticised by Councillor Bryan Poole, who said it had been difficult to have any meaningful engagement with the developers since the idea of Cupar North was first mooted more than 10 years ago.

And he said that any notion that Fife Council would pay the £35 million cost of the proposed relief road was ‘pie in the sky’.

Planner Tony Thomas, whose East Lothian-based company has an application in for a site at Ferryfield, Cupar, which would accommodate 100 homes, said that other developments in the area had been put on hold because of the ‘behemoth’ that was Cupar North.

“It seems it is Cupar North or bust”, he commented.