Fate of Leslie House in the hands of councillors

A fence has been erected around Leslie House to deter vandals.
A fence has been erected around Leslie House to deter vandals.

A decision to approve an application to build 28 houses on land close to the Grade A-listed Leslie House could sound the death knell for the historic building, it has been claimed.

That’s the view of those opposing Muir Homes, whose application comes before the the region’s planning committee today (Wednesday).

The historic building was gutted by fire in 2009.

The historic building was gutted by fire in 2009.

They say a decision to go with the officers recommendation to grant conditional approval would effectivly leave the former home to the Earl of Rothes, which was gutted in a fire in February 2009, to rot away.

Local resident Richard Graves, who lives in Dukes Lodge close to the proposed site, said he had major concerns over how the application was being handled.

He added that if approval is given, it would do away with an ‘enabling development’ clause included in a previous planning consent for 12 houses granted in 2007, which required part of the sale of the houses to help finance the restoration of Leslie House.

“This is the last chance we have of saving the historic Leslie House from ruin,” Mr Graves told the Gazette.

“The report was only made public less than a week ago and therefore we are calling on councillors to postpone any decision to allow for proper and full independent consideration into what has already been a very complex planning history.

“It’s an important consideration that will determine the fate of Leslie House and councillors who sit on the planning committee, especially those who represent the Glenrothes area, need to fully grasp the magnitude of the decision they are being asked to make.”

Furthermore, Mr Graves refutes Fife Council’s claim that the enabling revenue, which was gained through the sale of land by Leslie House owners Sundial Properties to Muir Homes, and subsiquently invested and then lost due to the fire, has now been fulfilled.

“The Council have no policy on enabling development and refuse to adopt the policy used by other Scottish councils and recommended by Historic Scotland,” added Mr Graves.

“Any new housing was only ever considered in the grounds of Leslie House as a way of ensuring Leslie House was refurbished.”

A number objections were received including one from Leslie Community Council who oppose the plans due to the impact on the local amenity and the adverse impact on traffic.

Thay also highlight the lack of consideration to affordable housing.

While planning officers conceed that the application does not comply with certain requirements they are recommending approval subject to a number of conditions, one of which stipulates a contribution of £36,000 for off-site affordable housing.