Bid for East Neuk workshop refused

An East Neuk businessman has failed in his bid to overturn a decision by Fife councillors, who rejected his plans for a change of use of an agricultural storage building to an agricultural and motor engineering workshop.

Councillors refused the retrospective planning application for the site at West Pitcorthie, Anstruther, submitted by Alan Stirling, of A&K Auto Repairs, earlier this year.

However, an appeal against that decision has now been dismissed and planning permission refused by Ian Urquhart, a Reporter appointed by the Scottish Ministers.

Mr Urquhart said that the determining issues in the appeal were the acceptability of the proposed use in the rural location close to Anstruther, its impact on the amenity of occupiers of neighbouring properties and the effect on road safety.

In his findings, he noted that the appellant currently operates his car repair business from the site and, through the appeal, sought retrospective planning permission for a change of use.

Fife Council issued an enforcement notice in May of last year requiring the cessation of the use of the motor repair business on the site, where Mr Stirling repairs and services motor vehicles, including commercial vans.

In his findings, Mr Urquhart said: ”It appears that the customer base for the business is drawn from the wider local area, including nearby settlements.

‘‘There does not appear to be any specific requirement to have the business sited in a rural location at West Pitcorthie, other than the availability of the appeal site and premises. I note the appellant’s difficulties in finding suitable premises for his business and the support of the council’s economic development team.

“Nevertheless, I am not convinced that the appeal site is a suitable location for a business involved wholly in the servicing and repair of motor vehicles. It would be better suited to an industrial location within a settlement or to another location within a settlement more distant from residential properties.”

The Reporter expressed concern about the proximity of the business to residential property, in particular a building at Greenacres used for residential care, and said that he considered that even a slight increase in noise - combined with a general increase in activity and vehicle movements directly in front of Greenacres - would create a level of disturbance which would be unacceptable in this rural location.

He ruled that the proposal was at odds with part of the adopted Largo and East Neuk Local Plan which states that new development outwith defined settlement boundaries must be shown to be necessary and no suitable alternative location exists.

In addition, he added, the proposal failed to meet the policy’s requirement that new development should be compatible with its rural setting and not cause unacceptable disturbance to the countryside.

Mr Urquhart added that he considered that the access track leading to the appeal site from the B9171 was unsuitable for a business use entirely concerned with motor vehicles, with regular vehicle movements to and from the site, including commercial vehicles.

The original planning application attracted almost an equal number of supporters as objectors.