another hurdle in the ongoing saga of building a Morrisons supermarket in Kirkcaldy was overcome this week when councillors voted unanimously to give new plans the go ahead, despite a recommendation for refusal by planning officials.
The Kirkcaldy area committee decided that planning objections on the grounds that it didn’t comply with urban design proposals set out in a masterplan for the Linktown and Invertiel area could be overcome by the use of suitable materials for boundary walls and some sympathetic landscaping.
And it was also agreed that a piece of iconic artwork marking the main entrance to the west end of the town would help to alleviate concerns that it was not in keeping with a major gateway to Kirkcaldy.
Following the meeting, a spokesman for Invertiel Developments Ltd, the company behind ambitious plans for the area, said it was very pleased with the decision.
Joe Noble, director of strategic development for Macdonald Estates, said: “We would certainly support the comments from councillors to meet their ambitions for an iconic entranceway to the town, in the form of some public art and we very much look forward to working with officers over the next couple of weeks to reach agreement before it goes back to the planning committee.”
He explained that Morrisons took the decision to submit a new application to avoid a lengthy appeal process over conditions laid down for the previous application.
Planner Elspeth Cook, explained there were two reasons for recommending refusal: the impact it would have on town centre retailers and that it did not deliver the urban design aspirations laid down for the development framework for the area.
And committee chairman Neil Crooks said officers had to look at the planning issues they were faced with.
In an empassioned speech to the committee against the recommendation, local representative, Councillor George Kay blamed officers for failing to live up to the slogan that “Fife is the easiest place to do business.”
“If everything we try to do in Fife is met with this wholehearted attempt to thwart the furtherance of these developments then we aren’t going to get any business,” he said.
Councillor Judy Hamilton suggested the urban design difficulty could be addressed by a piece of “really iconic” artwork to mark the entrance to the town, on the theme of Adam Smith or a nautical theme.
Mr Noble told the Press that because of the delays in planning, they would be looking at an opening date in summer 2013.
“We have had over 600 letters of support from the community and today this was a great example of democracy in action.”
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David Torrance, MSP for Kirkcaldy, welcomed the decision of the Kirkcaldy area committee.
“I am glad that the councillors decided to go against the recommendation of council officials and approved the application.
“This is desperately needed in Kirkcaldy and will act as an incentive to regenerate the area.
“I am disappointed however that the decision now has to go back to the planning committee of Fife Council and I wonder what has happened to local democracy and accountability when the Kirkcaldy area committee is not given the final decision on such an important decision for its own area.
“Further delays will result in more loss of revenue for the local economy and the 330 people who could be earning money by being employed there.”