SITTING behind the sign that welcomes people to Glenrothes is the potential new site of over 400 homes and a vibrant new community in the town.
The huge plan to breath life into an undeveloped industrial estate in Glenrothes has been welcomed by most, particularly in light of the major need for housing in the area. But the plans have raised some concerns too.
Scottish Enterprise and investment company Landteam have submitted a formal application with Fife Council for planning permission in principle for a mixed-use development at Westwood Park, which lies just south-west of Bankhead roundabout.
It would include up to 420 homes, business use, a restaurant/takeaway and a creche amongst other things - creating a whole new area in the town.
Plans at this stage remain vague as those behind this application look to keep their options open with what exactly they do with the 41.5 hectares site.
Unfortunately the developers and their agent James Barr Ltd declined the opportunity to talk to the Gazette about their intentions.
Councillor Ian Sloan welcomed the plans but wants to see a mix of homes built at Westwood Park so that people can get on the property ladder.
“We desperately need more homes in Fife and obviously any development of housing within Glenrothes is badly needed, he said.
“What we have got to ensure with this planned development and any like it, is that there is affordable housing.
“It can’t just be a development for people that can afford expensive housing.
“The site is already committed for use, it’s not a greenfield site.
“So in terms of there being a housing development at Westwood Park, I don’t have an issue with that, as long as first-time buyers and people with low incomes can get involved.
“So, provided there is a mixture of housing, then I think that it is beneficial.”
The newly elected Labour member for Glenrothes Central and Thornton added his wish for more homes built in the region for everyone: “What I would want to see, is that more social housing being built in Fife, said Cllr Sloan.
“We want to see more developments along that line in the longer-term.
“I don’t have much in-depth knowledge of this particular development at Westwood Park so I can’t say to much more just now.”
Councillor Ross Vettraino, who also represents the ward the planned site at Westwood Park would be in, is still to see the full details of the plans so could only briefly say: “The Housing Needs Survey demonstrated that more housing was needed in Fife. The problem is finding suitable sites for the housing.
“Westwood Park is a very large area. I am sure it would be able to accommodate some housing.
“Whether it could do 420 homes I don’t know, I haven’t seen the plans yet. If the plans embrace the buildings that are already there, then it could work.
“I don’t know what area of land down there the plans refer to exactly, I haven’t seen them.”
The SNP councillor welcomed any possible social housing at Westwood Park, highlighting the last administration’s record on creating such homes in Fife.
“Housing is needed in Fife, and Glenrothes has been highlighted as one of the areas that needs it the most,” added Cllr Vettraino.
“Social housing, if that is what is planned, would be welcomed as there is a great need for such housing.
“We provided 180 houses for let in the five years as the previous administration. In the five years prior to that the Labour administration didn’t provide a single one.”
Although the plans were submitted only last month their has already been an objection from one of the four current occupants at Westwood.
Regenersis are concerned about increased traffic on access road James Watt Avenue and the increased traffic flow onto the Bankhead roundabout. They have also raised the issue of security at their premises. While Regenersis have said they are “sympathetic” to the applicant’s plans to develop the site these issue remain a concern. It has however proposed that a barrier between the industrial area and residential area should be created when landscaping the site.
This was exactly the reaction when a similar proposal was put forward two years ago to redevelop a run-down industrial area on the west of Glenrothes. Objections from current residents at the largely undeveloped Whitehill Industrial Estate were made after plans were made by Lincoln Land Ltd to build 213 homes and other facilities there. As yet those plans have not went any further.
So with these two huge plans for Glenrothes still in the balance and planning permission pending at both Westwood Park and Whitehill Industrial Estate, it remains to be seen if Glenrothes will see a change in the landscape anytime soon. These developments, together with other smaller ones like the planned 200 homes at Cadham Road Water Works, could see the population of the town rise dramatically over the next generation. But with the recent housing crash and the current financial climate, plans such as these put forward by Scottish Enterprise and Landteam for Westwood Park seem just too ambitious in 2012.
A new community on the edge of Glenrothes seems like a pipe dream at this stage.