Cupar North plans under fire

Cupar's roadworks project has virtually eliminated town centre
Cupar's roadworks project has virtually eliminated town centre

Cuparians are being warned against ‘sleepwalking’ into a development that would increase the town’s size by 25 per cent and, it’s claimed, turn it into a ghost town.

Cupar resident Ceri Williams, formerly a key figure in the protest group CARD - Cupar Against Rural Development - is

urging people to speak out against the proposed Cupar North plans, which would see some 1400 houses and a by-pass built to the north of the town.

He’s presented a raft of objections to the planning body TAYplan - and hopes others will do the same before time runs out.

The TAYplan consultation is due to finish on June 27.

The idea for Cupar North was first mooted in 2006 when it was proposed that a consortium of developers would build the houses and use the money generated to create a by-pass.

But the plans never came to fruition because of the onset of the recession.

Now they’re back on the drawing board, along with a retail park and a primary school - and Mr Williams warns that if the development is permitted, it would sound the death knell for the town centre.

He says the notorious congestion has ‘all but vanished’ following the completion of the multi-million pound roadworks scheme and that a by-pass is no longer needed.

And he says the idea goes against the draft Scottish planning policy of ‘Town Centres First’.

“Cupar North, which includes a 25 per cent increase in Cupar’s housing stock, a retail park and a by-pass, all on the edge of the settlement, has all the ingredients likely to ensure that Cupar town centre dies,” he said.

“Between 2009 and 2013, the empty town centre floorspace for retail and non-retail services increased by 332 per cent.

“It cannot be argued that a retail park on the east edge of the settlement will put the town centre first.”

Mr Williams also noted that a new secondary school is not included in the plans and questioned the ability of Bell Baxter High School to cope.

The school already has more than 1800 pupils - twice the UK average - and would have to cater for over 220 more, should the plans go ahead.

It’s expected that a planning application will be lodged by the Cupar North consortium by the end of the year and local people have been promised they’ll be fully consulted first.

Fife Council’s senior planner Jim Birrell, earlier this year, said the process would be ‘fully transparent’.

However, Mr Williams says there is confusion surrounding the proposals, with some residents believing it’s already a ‘done deal’.

“I’m concerned that the people of Cupar may be sleepwalking into this,” he said.

“I hope that, if they feel the same as I do about it, they’ll make a submission to TAYplan before it’s too late.

“I cannot think of any aspect of the proposed development called Cupar North that would be beneficial to the community of Cupar.

“It was and is a developer-led scheme that officials have foisted on the town against community wishes.

“If I get enough support on this, I would be prepared to start a new committee along the same lines as CARD and would urge people to respond to the TAYplan consultation before the dealine of June 27.

“They are welcome to use my submission if they wish.”