THE public gallery of Kirkcaldy’s Town House erupted in spontaneous applause as a councillor finished an impassioned speech in favour of a development that would see the derelict western gateway to the town given a new lease of life.
Around 15 supporters of McDonald Estates’ proposals to bring regeneration and jobs to the former B&Q area of Invertiel clapped loudly as Councillor George Kay gave his backing to the plans at a meeting of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee yesterday (Wednesday).
And, after a lengthy debate on the application to build a supermarket with car parking, petrol station and a car wash, all 12 members of the committee agreed to a preliminary statement that they supported the application in principle – meaning it can now move forward to the next step of the process.
Because it is contrary to the local Development Plan it will now have to be considered by the planning committee and the full Fife Council.
A caveat outlined a series of conditions including maintaining public open space and setting up of forum to discuss issues relating to the application.
Councillor Kay described how times had changed drastically from when the framework for developing the area had begun to the present day.
“We were in the situation where money was no object, but we now come to a situation which is quite the opposite and nobody is going to give us money for anything.
“Against that we have in Invertiel a developer quite willing to put his money where his mouth is and build something which will start giving the area opportunities.”
Talking about the paper produced by officers on the proposal, he said: “The paper sets out saying we shouldn’t be settling for bread and butter pudding when we could be getting jam tomorrow.
“I remember all the debates we had about the Invertiel masterplan and all those things were great, but they don’t exist today. What we are looking at is a masterplan that’s aspirational and an application that’s reality.”
He urged the officers to try to push the application forward as quickly as possible.
His views were echoed by Councillor Ron Edwards who said the masterplan framework was intended to be as flexible as possible.
Describing the situation as “not black and white”, Councillor Susan Leslie said she had concerns about moving away from the framework, saying: “We will live with this one for a very long time.”
After the meeting the developers, MacDonald Estates, said: “We are very pleased that the councillors recognised the significant benefits the project will bring to Invertiel.
“In particular they referred to the material considerations including the economic impact, the index of multiple deprivation and the wider benefits it will bring to the town.
“We will be working with Morrisons who have agreed they will only go to Invertiel to deliver this project.”
John Alexander of Kirkcaldy Needs Action Today (KNAT) which supports the application, added: “We are happy we have got over the first hurdle and we were very pleased with our councillor who did a fine job in his speech. I would like to think it had something to do with the representations made to him.’’