Care home and housing plan rejected - Council wants to protect ‘employment land’

Diosynth land
Diosynth land

Plans which the applicant claimed would have provided much-needed affordable housing in Levenmouth have been rejected by Fife Council.

Janette Penman, owner of the former Diosynth Complex site at Muiredge Industrial Estate, Buckhaven, wanted to erect a care home – incorporating a dementia unit and health clinic – and 58 single storey homes over people aged over 55.

But the application was recommended for refusal by the central area planning committee – and that decision was rubber-stamped by at a full council meeting on Thursday.

One of the Council’s reasons for refusal was the land has been zoned for ‘employment purposes’ in the Strategic Land Allocation (SLA) for Levenmouth.

But, even prior to the decision being made, Mrs Penman’s agent, Stewart Davidson, of Davidson Baxter Partnership, pointed out the site had been actively marketed for a number of years as employment land without success.

In a statement, he said the site was purchased as a brownfield development in 2007 when it wasn’t allocated for employment, and at that time the Council was encouraging the use of derelict sites for residential developments.

And, outlining a series of measures put forward by Mrs Penman - including an offer to give half the site to the council at no charge – he said: “The land owner has shown a willingness to work in conjunction with Fife Council at every opportunity to allow this site to be developed.”

Mr Davidson also drew comparisons with Tesco’s plans for store on ‘employment land’ at Pfaudler Balfour’s site in Leven, which were approved, subject to Tesco making a compensation payment.

He said: “A sum of £180,000 was offered to Fife Council by our client for the loss of employment land, a similar gesture made by Tesco to develop occupied industrial employment land in Leven. This offer was rejected.”

It’s understood Fife Council is now looking at a compulsory purchase order for the site.

The Council has made an offer of £220,000 for the cleared site, well short of the price paid by the owners, believed to be in the region of £1.2 million.

Mr Davidson stated: “The site was acquired pre-recession and at a much higher value than would be the case in the current climate.

“The client is dismayed that the Council takes no account of the expenditure in relation to the remediation of the site in addition to the client’s original capital investment when compiling a financial offer for the site.”

As well as the loss of employment land, the Council’s reasons for refusing planning permission included the interests of residential amenity, insisting this would be lacking if the development was allowed to go ahead between an existing industrial estate and a proposed industrial area.

The Council said the development would also impact on existing a future businesses as it would limit the range of activities which could be carried out due to their proximity to noise-sensitive residential properties.