Firm fails in Fife Council damages bid

Artist impression of Cala Homes development for 85 houses at land off Main St Aberdour
Artist impression of Cala Homes development for 85 houses at land off Main St Aberdour

Claims by a housing developer that Fife Council acted unreasonably in its decision to reject controversial plans for new homes in Aberdour, have been thrown out.

In a final ruling issued this week by Scottish Government Reporter Stephen Hall, he has now formally overturned the council’s decision and granted Cala Homes Ltd planning permission in principle for the creation of 85 new homes south of Main Street in the village.

However, Mr Hall has rejected Cala’s claim that the Fife authority acted unreasonably in allegedly rejecting its own lead transport officer’s advice without any objective evidence.

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Cala Homes sought an award of expenses, claiming the council reached its decision “without reasonable planning grounds for doing so”.

Mr Hall, indicated, that members of the planning committee were fully aware that the council’s transportation officers were not objecting to the application, but that the committee was right to also take into account the views of the many objectors who had raised issues relating to traffic and road safety.

In his ruling Mr Hall stated: “Even if these were not the views of professional transport engineers, they would have been informed by an on the-ground knowledge of local road conditions, and it was therefore legitimate for the committee to take these views into account.”

The proposal attracted over 800 objections from residents and was subsequently rejected by councillors in July, 2018. However, an appeal was then launched by the developer.

Cllr Alice McGarry, convener South West Fife area committee and Planning Committee said: “While we remain disappointed that the council’s decision on the development was overturned by the Reporter, we welcome the acknowledgement that the council followed the appropriate and proper procedures and will therefore not have to pay any compensation.”

Cala Homes has already welcomed the decsion to grant approval, with planning manager Steven Cooper adding: “The reporter’s balanced consideration of the proposal re-affirms the suitability of the site and the proposal.”