Cottar House fate sealed as art club seeks new future

Art club president Lilian Sloan and her husband Cllr Ian Sloan outside the club's Cottar House studio.
Art club president Lilian Sloan and her husband Cllr Ian Sloan outside the club's Cottar House studio.

The fate of one of Glenrothes’ oldest buildings has been sealed after planners granted approval that will mean almost certain demolition.

The Cottar House, a 17th century dwelling, and one of the last remaining buildings that pre-dates the construction of Glenrothes as a new town, has been home to the Art Club for the last 60 years.

But now Fife Council’s central area planning committee has given approval ‘in principle’ for the building of up to three houses on the 908 square metre site, a move that will result in demolition of the historic single storey structure unless a buyer comes forward who wants to retain the building.

The application was made by the long standing Art Club, who told the Gazette the approval will allow the club to find a new home in a more central location and secure the its long-term future.

“The building has been a cherished and worthy home for the club for over 60 years but we have outgrown it, and it’s time to move on,” said Lillian Sloan, Glenrothes Art Club chairman.

“With a significant list of repairs now required and little chance of the club being able to meet those costs, members voted unanimously in 2011 to allow the club’s trustees to explore ways of maximising the potential of the Cottar House studio, which after all is the club’s only asset.

“We are pleased planners have recognised that and given us the opportunity to create a new era for the club.

“It needs to be remembered that this is only approval in principle and any future development of the building would have to meet stringent criteria and be put before planners before anything is decided.”

Officers recommended conditional approval for the application, though Glenrothes councillor Ross Vettraino tabled an amendment calling for it to be refused on the grounds that the building was of historical and architectural value.

“I can’t believe that we are being asked to take a decision which will effectively allow an historic building to be demolished without first knowing what is likely to replace it,” he said.

However, Bill Lindsay, service manager for the development plan confirmed that the Cottar House was neither a listed building or architecturally of significance.

The decision, by seven votes to four to grant approval, was branded a disgrace by residents close to the site.

“It’s very sad indeed, there are few enough historic buildings as there is yet there has been little or no effort to protect aspects of that heritage or character in any future development,” said Alburne Park resident, Pat Fernee.

“The decision effectively now means the Cottar House could be demolished at any moment.”

Fellow resident Pam Garland from neighbouring Beech Grove added: “The decision is a disgrace.

“At no time has the club made any effort to inform the local residents of its intentions or to discuss the impact which the redevelopment of the site will inevitably have on those living here.”