SCOTTISH Government planners have delivered their verdict on the proposed Cupar North development.
The 1400-home expansion with relief road has been left intact by officials tasked with clearing up unresolved issues relating to the St Andrews and East Fife local plan.
Special consideration will be given to protection of the Dalgairn Garden designed landscape and the earthwork remains of St Christopher’s Church, a scheduled ancient monument.
Provision for allotments will be explicitly mentioned in the plans, while a flood risk assessment will be carried out before any development can begin.
But Councillor Andrew Arbuckle, chair of Fife Council’s north east area committee, believes the Cupar North development is wrong for the town.
He said: “I have always had reservations about the Cupar North proposal and I have tried once or twice to get it taken out of strategic or local plans.
“In fact, I wish I had been more assertive in rejecting it.”
He went on: “I think it’s the wrong thing for Cupar and the surrounding area.
“Communities should grow organically, not with great lumps of development.
“We’ve seen it in other areas and there’s no heart to these places.”
Councillor Arbuckle expressed strong concerns about Cupar North as far back as 2007 — but in December of that year his Liberal Democrat party and its SNP coalition colleagues on Fife Council approved the structure plan governing local development strategy.
At the time, administration councillors were accused by the campaign group Cupar Against Rural Development (CARD) of betraying the town.
Councillor Arbuckle, who will be stepping down in May, said: “The reality is we’re in a different economic climate now.
“Cupar North was built on the optimistic belief that half a dozen major developers could work together and that they would forward fund the bypass.
“Frankly, that’s pie in the sky right now.”
There were 850 unresolved representations from individuals, businesses and local interest groups following Fife Council’s public consultation over the local plan.
Concerns raised about Cupar North included increased flood risk and traffic, the effect on the character and setting of the town, and pressure on school rolls.
Developers from outwith the Cupar North consortium working with the council had also argued that additional sites around the town should be made available for housing.
But the Government reporters largely upheld the existing plans for Cupar North, making only minor amendments.
The council does not expect work on Cupar North to begin until 2014 at the earliest, although development at Gilliesfaulds West could begin sooner as it is not dependent on the relief road.
Officials have suggested that the local authority might have to borrow money to finance the relief road before seeking the money back from developers.
Councillor John Beare, chair of the council’s planning committee, broadly welcomed the Scottish Government’s report on the local plan as a whole.
He said: “The reporters’ conclusions and recommendations give widespread support to the St Andrews and East Fife local plan strategy and can be read as an endorsement of the changes Fife Council proposed after the extended public consultation phases of the local plan.
“This has been a long process following the interruption to the plan’s preparation when the Fife structure plan was re-appraised.
“I would, however, like to thank everyone who participated in the plan’s preparation.”