Dunfermline Learning Campus: Plans to merge schools into Fife College site 'should be approved'

Plans to build a new education super-campus on the eastern edge of Dunfermline should be approved despite concerns over how it might affect the wider area, Fife planners say.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:36 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 12:12 pm
The site of the proposed development.

Councillors will be asked to green-light planning permission in principle for the Dunfermline Learning Campus, on the former Hyundai/Motorola site at Halbeath, at a meeting next week.

As well as a new Fife College campus and replacements for both Woodmill High and St Columba’s High School, the proposal includes a nursery, a 90-bed care home, assisted living apartments, a pub/restaurant, a coffee drive-thru, a petrol station and 225 homes.

The proposals are being led by Fife Council, Fife College and by land owners Shepherd Offshore, but they have not been without controversy.

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Elected members will have to justify to over 80 objectors from the local area – including a campaign group seeking to protect the adjoining Calais Muir Woods – why the project should go ahead.

The suggested southern entry road from Sandpiper Drive has courted controversy because of the impact it may have on local wildlife in the woods, and questions have been raised over the necessity of the filling station.

Earlier this year Shepherd also had its knuckles rapped by Scottish Forestry and Fife Council after it began cutting down trees on the campus site without a felling permit. An investigation found that the felling was barely within legal limits of what can be done without permission from the government.

Katherine Pollock, the Fife Council case officer tasked with justifying the recommendation of approval, says the plans adhere to all relevant council policies on building responsibly.

A 15 metre buffer zone north of the Calais Muir Woods will protect the woodland, she says, and both extra tree planting and a planned payment of £1.64 million will mitigate the impact of further tree felling and the loss of commercial land.

“The proposed masterplan is considered acceptable in terms of the land use mix and design principles,” Pollock writes in her report going before councillors on May 12.

“Sufficient justification has been provided for the new land uses proposed and the principle of educational development at this site is already accepted.

“On balance, the proposal is acceptable and in accordance with the Development Plan and relevant guidance subject to the noted commuted sum and planning conditions.”

A plethora of conditions are attached to the proposed approval, requiring further detailed applications for all of the proposed facilities to be submitted and approved prior to any construction going ahead.

Fife Coucil has also proposed a fixed limit of 225 homes unless written consent is given to amend it, and requirements to create pedestrian and cycle paths throughout the estate and to protect all other existing trees and shrubs.

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