Residents threaten legal action over housing plans at fire-ravaged Kirkcaldy school

Residents in Viewforth Gardens are considering taking legal action to address their concerns over recently approved plans to build homes on the site of a fire-ravaged Kirkcaldy school

By Debbie Clarke
Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 4:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 4:34 pm

Locals living in the street next to the former Viewforth High School are unhappy about the plans to build 73 properties on the site because of the impact on their homes.

They have no objection to any plans to develop the site in principle, but claim the final planning application – which was approved by the Central and West planning committee last month – had been revised without giving them an opportunity to express their concerns.

The two main issues they are objecting to are: a proposed new access road at the bottom of Viewforth Gardens, and the increase in parking in their street with the new homes and driveways facing onto Viewforth Gardens.

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Residents have raised concerns about the houses which will be built on this hill facing into Viewforth Gardens.

The residents, many of who have lived there for over 30 years, have submitted a petition to Fife Council and written to Steve Grimmond, chief executive, – and say if their concerns are enot addressed by the local authority, they intend to take their case to the Court of Session.

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One said: “We accept the site has to be developed but originally there was just going to be three semi-detached houses on the hill facing away from Viewforth Gardens.

The former Viewforth School in Loughborough Road which was destroyed by fire.

"Then the plans changed to bring in an access road for traffic at the bottom of the gardens and to build six semi-detached houses, which we weren’t consulted about.

"The increase in traffic will be horrendous.

"We have put objections in which have been disregarded. The developer and Fife Council hasn’t listened to us or responded when we have asked for meetings. We feel we have no say in this.”

Alastair Hamilton, Fife Council planning service manager, confirmed access from Viewforth Gardens was not changed during the course of the application.

The residents in Viewforth Gardens who are unhappy with the housing development plans for the site of the former Viewforth school.

He said all traffic and road safety issues were fully considered and assessed and any objections included as part of that process.

"All planning issues were assessed in the report which was considered by the Central and West planning committee in deciding on the application."

Eve McCurrich, managing director for Whiteburn, said it has fully complied with the planning process holding two public consultations in late 2019 which were well attended by locals.

“Their feedback contributed to robust proposals to transform the grounds of the former school,” she said.

"The secondary access on to Viewforth Gardens was requested by Fife Council Roads department as part of the planning pre-application consultation process.

“During this process, we received a letter signed by Viewforth Gardens residents and we responded to the points raised.

“Following the arson attack on the school building, we worked with Fife Council and its legal advisors regarding the removal of the C-listed building from our proposals and this reduced the number of proposed properties from 96 to 73.

“As part of discussions, we amended the layout to remove one three storey block of nine apartments and include 2 traditional two storey homes. The revised design proposal

was available for the local community to comment upon via the planning authority portal and our website. Following this amendment, Fife Council also completed a Neighbour Notification which allows relevant consultees to respond with comments.”

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