‘I just want to get on and build a home’ - Kirkcaldy man’s fight with Fife Council

Brian Black on the plot of land he hopes to build on (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)
Brian Black on the plot of land he hopes to build on (Pic by Fife Photo Agency)

A Kirkcaldy business owner has become involved in a row with Fife Council over plans to build his own home.

Brian Black, who runs a garage on Mitchell Street, has been trying to build a house for himself and his wife on a plot at Cluny since he bought it seven years ago.

He was given full planning permission to build two years ago but says since then the council has been overzealous on restrictions placed on the project.

“It’s been a long process but finally things were starting to take shape,” he said. “The garage has pretty much been finished off and, for health and safety reasons, a retaining wall has been erected and I’ve put in amenities for builders to use whilst they are there.

“I’ve organised the water supply and the phone line and the electricity will be sorted out shortly, so a lot has been done.”

But last Saturday, Mr Black received a letter telling him to stop work as he needed to apply for a building warrant.

He said: “The council hit me with everything they could think of. My architect said there would normally be three or four things you would be asked to correct – I was given 47.

“The council told me I have to build with sandstone which is incredibly expensive. I had wanted to use anstone or fyfestone, but was told it was unsuitable and that sandstone would fit in with the feel of the countryside.

“I pointed out that there was a church that had been built just down the road using anstone, which everyone thinks looks like a warehouse, but it said that was nothing to do with me.

“It also said that I was trying to build in a listed area, but it’s not.”

Mr Black was told the area he is trying to build on is a “high profile” site.

“I asked how could it be?,” he said. “It’s in the middle of a field, there’s a forest behind it, there are no neighbours and the only access is a small dirt road.

“But the council has now told me categorically that I will not be building on that plot, even though I have been granted full planning permission. The enforcement officer was adamant that I haven’t, even though I’ve got it in a letter with permission in black and white.

“It claims that there are reports it hasn’t received – but it has. If not, it wouldn’t have granted full planning permission in the first place.”

Mr Black says he has found the process very frustrating.

“Why is the council saying to me I’ll never meet the criteria?,” he said. “I’m being made an example of. No-one will give me straight answer to why this is proving so difficult.”

Garry Nicoll, lead officer with Fife Council, said the council is still working on the project.

“We are involved in ongoing discussions with Mr Black,” he said. “We have asked him to stop his building work until we receive more information on issues including structural safety and building levels. He also needs a building warrant before work can continue on site. We will continue to work with Mr Black to gather the information we need to allow building to progress.”