Villa plan next to Fife children’s home to be challenged

Former Raith Gates care home. Pic: FPA
Former Raith Gates care home. Pic: FPA

Plans to be build luxury villas next to a children’s home in Kirkcaldy are set to be challenged.

SNP councillors have ‘called-in’ Labour’s proposal to spend £1m on the development at the former Raith Gates residential home which closed last year.

The move means it will now have to go in front of Fife Council’s scrutiny committee.

It will look again at the plans and can either uphold the executive’s decision or add any conditions it feels are necessary.

If that happens, the project would be sent back and the debate would start all over again.

The proposed luxury villas would effectively screen the home for looked-after children, and if both projects went ahead at the same time, it would be less disruptive for locals.

But the SNP has criticised Labour of engaging in “casino politics” – and said the move was ‘“a gamble” into the property development market which was not their remit.

Leading the call-in, Councillor Neale Hanvey (Dunfermline Central) said Labour had buried the item at the end of an agenda to “shield themselves from accountability by using vulnerable young people to excuse a woefully inadequate proposal.”

He added: “By putting a controversial proposal at the very end of a busy agenda and then deliberately shutting down debate, before any proper examination of the facts took place only serves to amplify concern.”

His colleague, Councillor Cllr Ian Ferguson backed the call-in.

The Dunfermline north councillor said: “No matter how I look at this proposal, I cannot find a comfortable moral position in favour of the council devoting scarce resources to the gamble of building of luxury houses, while many folk are living in sub-standard and damp conditions.

SNP Deputy Leader Cllr Karen Marjoram continued: “Any ‘Fifer’ in hope of property repairs or in homelessness accommodation will read of this with absolute horror.

“Labour is now engaged in casino politics, gambling a million pounds on the luxury housing market, while many Fifers suffer.”

Labour revealed the proposals at a meeting of its Executive Committee earlier this month.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, executive spokesman, said: “There were a number of potential options for the use of the remaining land and we had extensive community engagement around these options.

“To leave a large vacant site next to the new children’s house would isolate the young people who need to stay there.”