Leslie House appeal thrown out by reporter

A legal lifeline that could trigger the restoration of Leslie House has been protected.
A legal lifeline that could trigger the restoration of Leslie House has been protected.

A bid by developers to scrap the last legal lifeline supporting the restoration of one of Fife’ s most historic buildings, has been rejected by the Scottish Government.

Muir Homes, the developer behind plans to build 28 luxury houses in the grounds of the former stately home Leslie House, had previously requested that a clause within the planning consent tying in the sale of homes and the restoration of the now derelict building , to be removed.

Clause 11 of the planning consent stipulates that dwellings 23 to 27 shall not be occupied until the works of conversion and restoration of Leslie House permitted by planning permission already granted have been completed.

However, Fife councillors rejected that move in June 2017 despite it’s own planning officers advising to accept the developer’s request.

Nick Smith , the reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers to oversee the case, this week threw out the developer’s appeal and also rejected a separated appeal calling for damages to be paid, because of claims by Muir Homes, that Fife Council had acted in an “unreasonable manner”.

It’s the latest twist in a long-running saga that stretches back more than a decade.

The 16th century, Grade-A listed building, the former residence of the Earl of Rothes, and home to the Countess of Rothes, who played a significant role in the rescue of passengers on during the Titanic disaster, was gutted in a blaze in 2009.

Since then a number of attempts restore restore the building have come to nothing, with the previous owner Sundial properties even offering to sell the building for £1, if a viable project could be found to return it to its former glory.

Praising councillors for the original decision Cllr Neil Crooks, convener of Central Area Planning committee said: “Seldom has this committee be asked to decide on a issue of such a complex and difficult nature as this.

“The recommendation was to approve but with much deliberation was one this committee agonised over before going against our officer’s.

“Now the Scottish Government has backed our judgement, we were right, and I wholeheartedly commend the work of members in dealing with such a difficult case.”