Fife open farm visitor centre appeal rejected

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A planning application for an open farm visitors centre has been rejected for the second time after councillors refused an appeal.

Cameron Railway Trust wanted to build a visitors centre and cafe at Balbuthie Farm, in Leven. Classic steam trains would have been on display at the centre.

The plans would see a visitor centre building, with a café and shop including an outdoor seating area. A car park with 52 parking spaces, coach parking and cycle parking would also be provided. Around three to five jobs would also have been created.

But at the at the planning review committee, councillors turned down the application.

Councillor Graham Ritchie said: “I’m torn by the notion that people who are brought in by the trains will be interested in the farm aspect. I do want to increase access to the country side and I’ve put a lot of effort into doing that.

But I’m not convinced trains do much for that at all.”

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He added: “I’m rejecting it, because in my mind, it seems like the farm aspect was almost added on as an afterthought.”

Councillor Bobby Clelland agreed saying: “I would welcome more educational trips into the countryside. Most kids these days don’t know where their food comes from, either vegetables or animals – but I’m not sure the addition of the railways is beneficial.”

Convener of the committee David Barrat said he could see the argument being presented, but added, “I don’t know if that’s enough”.

Councillors agreed to uphold planning officers decision to refuse the application due to loss of prime agricultural land, and an impact on visual amenity in the countryside.