Fife councillors have approved a new housing development in Guardbridge, which will see 334 new homes built – 100 of which will be given to the local authority to rent out.
The development will also make contributions towards the extensions of Guardbridge Primary School and Madras College.
However, concerns were raised at North East Fife planning committee on Wednesday over the layout of the site.
The affordable housing used for renting is to be built mostly in the north of the site, with some mixed groups in the centre. The houses built which will be put up for sale will beon the south side.
Councillor Karen Marjoram said: “I would like some clarity on the affordable housing as it’s all bunched together.
“It doesn’t give the impression of a mixed community. I’m concerned that they’re all at that one end.”
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Councillor Tony Miklinski agreed, adding: “They policy says we don’t like large groupings of affordable housing, then here we proceed to put it all in one group. What is the underlying policy and why have we chosen to ignore it here?”
William Shand, planning officer, explained to the committee that it was easier for Fife Council when it takes over as landlords to have them all in one area for maintenance purposes.
He added: “With affordable housing, we’re looking to put them in areas that are closest to the local facilities, and in this case, the primary school, bus stop and shops are all on the north of the site.
“But it is still considered one site, they share play facilities. We do like small groupings, but, on balance, we feel it is largely integrated. All the houses will have the same external boundaries and treatments. The affordable housing team have been consulted and they are in full support.”
The development will also make contributions towards the extensions of Guardbridge Primary School and Madras College. Two new classrooms and a gym hall / dining hall are expected to be needed for the primary school by August 2021.
Councillor Tim Brett asked why the new development wasn’t making use of the nearby biomass plant to provide heating.
He said: “Guardbridge has this biomass plant, is aiming to be low carbon. We have these 300 new homes, but are not proposing to connect them. I have been urging the developers to get together with St Andrews University to see what can be done.”
Mr Shand said: “We ask for an energy statement and using the district heating system would work. We would suggest this to the developer and they would have to accept it and make changes, or prove why it wouldn’t be possible for them to connect.
“That could be for a number of reasons, such as not coming to an agreement with the university or there not being enough capacity. But they need to be able to prove that.”
Cllr Brett added: “I have been speaking to the university as recent as yesterday and they confirmed there would be capacity to do that. They were in talks with the developers but they said there has been no discussions over the last 12 months.”
However Cllr Brett welcomed the development, moving a motion that it was accepted, saying: “This is a key development that will make a huge difference to the community. There are 60 university staff members moving to the area over the next year or two. I particularly welcome the 100 new affordable homes.”
All councillors agreed to support the development.