Costa given final decision on 5:00am opening bid at new Fife cafe

Developers behind a new Costa Coffee drive-through have failed to convince a national appeals body of the need for a 5:00am opening time.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:09 pm
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 7:10 pm
Picture Michael Gillen

PVY Ltd had sought to extend the hours of the drive-through on the site of a garage in Halbeath's Main Street, despite concerns that it would generate too much noise for local residents.

The coffee shop forms part of a retail park development that was approved in October, with a condition limiting the units to opening between 7am and 11pm.

After its bid for a 5:00am opening was objected to by 29 locals and thrown out by Fife councillors in November, PVY turned to Scotland's national planning appeals body DPEA in a bid to overturn the decision.

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However, Scottish Government assessors have refused the appeal and PVY's subsequent claim for expenses, finding no merit in the firm's claims that the council had acted unreasonably.

Reporter Mike Shiel reviewed noise assessments taken in the area of the retail park and concluded that the levels of noise and light from the drive-through would be acceptable at 7am, when most people are waking up - but not at 5am, when they are still asleep.

"I consider that the operation of this unit between 5.00 and 7.00 am would be a potential source of disturbance to the adjoining residents in Main Street," Mr Shiel wrote in his report, published earlier this month.

His analysis, which included a visit to the site - a rarity during coronavirus restrictions - concluded that noises associated with the unit would blend in with background noise during the day. However, they would be far more disturbing at night.

Similarly, he said that Costa signs lit up during darker hours to advertise the unit to passing motorists "might result in disturbance" to local residents.

Planning agent Joe Fitzpatrick, on behalf of PVY, said noises from the units would not annoy the residents.

He had also accused planners of "unreasonable behaviour" for refusing the application in the first place.

Construction has already begun on the retail park, which will also include a Burger King, a cafe and three retail units, along with 86 parking spaces and six electric vehicle charging points.

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