Community rallies to fight expansion plans

Angry residents in the west Glenrothes community of Newcastle are vowing to contest “every inch of the way” plans for a new housing development that could double the number of dwellings in immediate area.

Home-owners opposed to a proposal to build around 300 new houses on the Milldeans Farm site situated between Newcastle and Leslie as part of the Council’s Local Development Plan, say if the potential development, which the Fife authority have designated a ‘preferred site’, is approved it would have a massive negative impact on the existing infrastructure of West side of Glenrothes, in particular the Newcastle precinct.

Already neighbours incensed at the lack of information and public awareness of the scheme have come together to form the Concerned Newcastle Residents group, (CNR) determined to force a Fife Council planning officials to rethink the

Residents have just one week left to register their opposition to the plan when a development strategy consultation ends on February 5.

Failure by the residents to stop the process of transferring the site currently designated as farming land to that of housing land would increase the difficulties of influencing decisions and any future planning applications relating to the Milldeans Farm site.

“It’s wholly unacceptable that the residents of Newcastle have not been directly informed about a proposed development of this size and magnitude,” said Isa Vance, a CNR member.

“Already there are a great many residents who are voicing genuine concerns about the impact on local services, schools, traffic levels, healthcare and other amenities should the development be given the go-ahead, and that’s before we even start to think about the impact it would have on wildlife in the area.

“Fife Council already have plans to reduce the number of schools in Glenrothes and if these extra houses are built then it will further impact on the situation.

“There are no firm details as to what provision, if any, Fife Council would put in place to counter the impact that a huge site like this would create,” she added.

Brian Sheerins, CNR chairman said as well local people not being informed of the plans, there are already a number of serious contradictions surrounding the proposal.

He told the Gazette: “Fife Council’s documentation states a site consisting of 300 houses but that the site’s owners have already earmarked the land for as many as 500 dwellings.”

In a report for Hallam Land Management, the company who bought the land, estimated to be 47 hectares in size, have already indicated in their FIFEplan main issues report that the ‘potential development capacity of the site to be ‘circa 500 homes’ of which a percentage, believed to be approximately ten per cent would be set aside for affordable housing’.

With time running out the campaigners have over the weekend visited over 150 of the 450 homes in Newcastle to publicise the threat they feel the site poses on the community and are urging residents to register their objections on Fife Council’s consultation website.

The group have also met with planning officials,councillors and members of the West Glenrothes Tenants Association and have already written to the regions MSP and MP concerning the matter.

CNR members are this week circulating a petition that they hope will demonstrate the depth of concern the news of these plans have already generated.

“Not a single household knew of the site plan and virtually everyone we encountered are shocked and angered by the possibilities,” explained Isa.

“We’ve already handed out leaflets explaining how residents can contact their local politicians and how register their concerns on-line and we hope to have contacted the remaining residents this week, giving people a week to stand up for their community,” she added.

A Facebook page -‘Newcastle Concerned Residents’ has also been formed to keep residents up to date with developments and for the community to discuss the housing proposals.

“While we are not yet at the stage of planning applications being decided upon, this next week represents a crucial time for the Newcastle community if we are to succeed in making the authorities aware of our grave concerns and the impact this proposal will if it goes ahead,” said Brian.