“great news for Kirkcaldy” was the overwhelming feeling expressed by supporters as Morrisons came a step closer to opening a new supermarket in the town this week.
Councillors on the authority’s planning committee voted seven to three in favour of recommending to the full council that plans for a £25 million supermarket on the site of the former B&Q store at Invertiel be approved.
The vote went against recommendations by planning officials who said that the application should be refused “in the interests of protecting the viability and vitality of Kirkcaldy Town Centre.”
Their report argued that there was “insufficient capacity” for a development of this size taking into account proposed developments within the town.
However councillors said a supermarket on the edge of town was unlikely to have any impact on “specialist” shops in the town centre - and that conditions could be put on the application to ensure that it was mainly food and drink being sold.
Planners also questioned the benefit of whether a supermarket with a petrol station and car wash would improve the appearance of the area at an important gateway to the town, but again suppporters contested that it would be better than the current derelict landscape, which has been deteriorating since B&Q moved to the north of the town in 2009.
The application, which is contrary to planning and development plans for the area, is for planning permission in principle for demolition of the existing retail unit and redevelopment of the site for a supermarket with car park, petrol station and car wash has already won the unanimous backing of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee, subject to issues of environmental, transportation and future development being addressed.
Councillor Ron Edwards, who moved that the application be approved, said he had been involved in the framework plans for the regeneration of the Invertiel and Linktown area and highlighted that it included “a bit of flexibility.”
He said the planned supermarket was not far over the 2500 square metre allocation for retail space, and would generate over 300 jobs for the local economy.
“Timing is also important, and this can deliver almost immediately, while, with plans to extend the Mercat, we are talking about at least 2015,” he said.
He said the development would drive forward the regeneration of the whole area, including the possible plans for a hovercraft or ferry crossing.
He was seconded by Councillor Ian Chisholm who said he did not accept that the plans for the Mercat expansion was a material consideration in the application.
Councillor David Mogg said: “If this application was turned down it would give a very negative message to potential investors and people who want to make money in Kirkcaldy. If we accept it we are giving a positive message that Kirkcaldy is open for business and is an open-minded, forward-looking place.”
Councillor John Beare, chairman of the committee, said he stood by the recommendation of the officers to refuse the application.
“I find it difficult to see how this application can be fitted into the development framework in place for the area.
‘‘Yes it is an eyesore, but that is not a reason for giving approval to any developer.”
He was seconded by Councillor Donald Lothian who said he was concerned about the transportation issues.
The motion to approve the application to the full Fife Council on June 30 was carried by seven votes to three.
A list of conditions for applicants, Invertiel Developments Ltd. on how the council would like the plans to be developed will be drawn up by committee officials and councillors.