Residents rejoice as Mildeans housing appeal rejected

Susan Rammage, Brian Sheerins and Isa Vance from Concerned Newcastle Residents Group, celebrating after the plan to build 300 homes was refused by councillors back in November 2015.
Susan Rammage, Brian Sheerins and Isa Vance from Concerned Newcastle Residents Group, celebrating after the plan to build 300 homes was refused by councillors back in November 2015.

It’s been hailed as a victory for common sense and claimed to be a triumph for the ordinary man and woman of Glenrothes, after the Scottish Govenment’s decision this week to reject plans to build a new housing estate in the west of the town.

It’s been two years of determination and dogged resistance, often against the complexity and might of the system as well as the desire of big developers, but the fight has paid off for residents in Newcastle in the west of the town, following the Scottish Government appointed reporter’s decision to reject Hallam Land Management’s appeal to be allowed to build around 300 new homes on the greenfield site at Milldeans Farm.

Milldeans Farm site, Newcastle, Glenrothes

Milldeans Farm site, Newcastle, Glenrothes

Locals who formed the Concerned Newcastle Residents group (CMR) to fight the plans, successfully convinced Fife Council to reject the proposal from its FifePLAN, the authority’s commitment to meeting government targets on new housing across the region over the next decade.

And they later scored a success when planners threw out the application to push ahead the development of the site.

But as the weeks turned into months as the appeal process dragged on, fears grew that the site would indeed be given the go ahead despite opposition at every stage.

But at around 3pm on Monday afternoon the news that residents had only dared to believe, was confirmed – their fight had been won.

“This is a fantastic result and a hugely significant decision,” Brian Sherrins, chairman of CMR, told the Gazette shortly after the decision was made public.

“Common sense has prevailed and the people have been taken into full consideration,” he added.

With a decision originally expected in June, Brian admits he felt the outcome could have gone either way.

“I wouldn’t have bet on it either way,” he admitted but commended the Reporter for his thorough investigation into the appeal.

“Milldeans Farm is a classic example of just why there needs to be reforms in the Scottish planning system.

“Great consideration needs to be given to the views of residents and those will be affected by such a a development.

“Thankfully that has happened here and I’m relieved for all those who have backed this campaign.”

The original planning application received 80 letters of objection from Newcastle residents, concerned over a number of issues from lack of emergency access, to the impact on schools, road infrastructure and vital services.

Fellow campaigner Isa Vance said having the community on side early on was key to the success, adding that the decision was “a victory of ordinary people who stood up for their community”.

In a 41-page report summing up his decision, David Liddle, Reporter said the site failed crucially because the lack of vehicular access.

“I see this as a significant failing in the provision of adequate infrastructure to serve the development,” he wrote.

He added: “The proposed development does not accord overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which justify granting planning permission in principle.

“I recommend that Ministers dismiss the appeal and refuse to grant planning permission in principle.”

Decision to reject the Milldeans plan welcomed by town’s politicians

The Reporter’s decision has been enthusiastically welcomed by the town’s political representatives, many of whom backed the campaigners from the outset.

Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Peter Grant said he hoped the ruling would allow the long running saga to finally be brought to an end.

“Detailed analysis by the Scottish Government’s reporters has confirmed the previous decisions by Fife Council that this site is not suitable for a large scale housing development,” said Mr Grant.

“I congratulate Concerned Newcastle Residents for their tireless and ultimately successful campaign to prevent a development that would have led to a serious deterioration in in quality of life for people living in the precinct.

“I hope this is now the end of the road for residents as the worry of this development has been a headache for too long.”

Councillor Bill Brown, chairman of Glenrothes Area Committee, said the decision was huge one for the whole of the west of Glenrothes.

Labour Councillor Altany Craik, whose ward the development would have been in, echoed his colleague’s comments, adding that the right decision had finally be arrived at. “The size and scale of the site was horrendous and would have had a significant negative impact on the surrounding community, I’m delighted to hear that the Reporter has listened to to and considered those who would have been affected – the residents.”

Local SNP Councillor Julie Ford, who also represents the area, said: “I am over the moon with this decision and I am glad that representations made by local residents, myself, and my colleagues Cllr Walker and Peter Grant MP were listened to.

“I hope this is now the end of the road for residents as the worry of this development has been a headache for too long.”

The developer now has six weeks in which to appeal the decision to the Court of Session.