£6000 ‘red tape’ bill to create flats in Kirkcaldy town centre

Dom Panetta on Tolbooth Street (Pic: Fife Photo Agency).
Dom Panetta on Tolbooth Street (Pic: Fife Photo Agency).

One of Kirkcaldy town centre’s biggest names has hit out at the amount of red tape facing those who try to improve the fortunes of the High Street.

Dom Panetta, who has been behind Dom Miguel salon since the 1990s, has been trying to develop the upper floors of the former salon on Tolbooth Street into three flats.

Bringing back residential properties to high streets is part of recommendations being made by the UK and Scottish Governments, but Dom says the council has made this increasingly difficult.

He was asked by Fife Council to shell out almost £6000 to have tests done on noise levels because they are close to the Wheatsheaf bar.

However, it is understood that similar developments close to pubs elsewhere in Kirkcaldy did not have to undergo the same tests.

Dom said: “I must have been there about 30 years. I was a tenant there and then I bought the building.

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“The architect got something from planning to say that it would want to send environmental health down.

“A representative stood outside, and never contacted me.

“My argument is that officials didn’t make an assessment, they made an assumption as they never asked for keys to look inside the place.

“They’ve gone down during the day and seen the Wheatsheaf, and said we need to get acoustic testing done.”

Dom says that a cost has been attached to at least two of the flats, meaning he will have to shell out to test the noise of the neighbouring pub.

He said: “To get it done on each property is just short of £3000, so I’m looking at almost £6000.

“At a push I may accept the one next to the pub getting done, but my argument is that if they think there’s that much noise then shouldn’t they be addressing the source of the noise?

“This vision they have about turning the High Street into a residential area, how’s that ever going to come about?

“Why do I need acoustic testing – which I’m not convinced will even register, but they won’t give me the £3000 back - when it’s got a beauty therapist down stairs and another shop next door?

“I ran an upmarket salon there for about 30 years, not once did I have to go next door and complain.”

Derek Simpson, Fife Council’s development management lead officer, said: “A planning application was submitted in May 2018 for a change of use from retail to two flatted dwellings.

“Through the assessment of the application a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) was requested in order to understand the impact of the neighbouring public house on the proposed flats.

“No NIA was submitted and the application was withdrawn by the applicant.

“In the absence of a NIA we do not know what the noise levels within the proposed flats would be, if mitigation would be required, or indeed if the impacts could be mitigated to acceptable levels.

“It is the role of the planning authority to ensure that new residential properties are fit for purpose in terms of amenity levels and to ensure existing businesses are not prejudiced by new developments.”