Planning website leaves locals in the dark

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FIFE Council has defended its online planning section, after opponents to a proposed Markinch development argued that it was not making the application public enough, reports KEVIN QUINN.

A large number of people in the town are opposed to Lomond Homes’ plans to build a 60 bed care home and five retirement homes at the Glebe, due to worries over flood water on the site, increased traffic locally during construction, historical importance, unsustainabililty and the fact that this type of build is contrary to the local plan.

This large number of objectors on the Fife Council planning website made their feeling clear.

However, Chris Wands is upset that certain documents and comments have not been made available on the website, including SEPA’s recent concerns.

She said: “The SEPA thing should have been notified to everyone. The biggest problem we have got is getting Lomond Homes to tell us how much peat they are shifting.

“There has been a lack of information in the public domain. It’s not put to a public debate, it’s all going on behind closed doors.

“Once they get planning permission the can do anything they want. It’s a big problem because you don’t know what is happening.

“You put a comment up on the website and it takes a week to appear, that’s if it goes up at all. I know people who put stuff up last year and it has still not went up.

“We have had issue with this for a while. I don’t know how it works. It’s very important, I do think if they had been a bit more up front with people they wouldn’t have got so much grief.

“We are all working in the dark.”

And, John Morton of Markinch Community Council is upset that they haven’t been told about recent changes to the application.

He said: “There has been quite significant documents submitted in the last few months and we were not told about them.

“We weren’t informed. It should have been something they told us about.

“The new plans seem to be certainly not significantly different from the previous planning application.

“I have no idea if it will be accepted. I have put up a personal opinion on the website about the new documents.

“As for Markinch Community Council, it has always been against any development on the site.”

Mary Stewart, Service Manager with Enterprise, Planning and Protective services at the council explained that they have had some website issues, but defended their information-sharing policy.

She said “We are aware of the concerns in relation to some online comments not appearing online and can confirm we’ve investigated the issue and this is currently being addressed by our software suppliers.

“The issue occurs with applications which have attracted a large number of representations.

“Since the overall description of the development hasn’t changed and the plans have not been amended during the processing of the application, there has been no requirement for the council to re-notify any of the neighbours or objectors. All documents submitted by the applicant in support of their application are made available online including the original and the amended flooding assessment.

“Where amended documents are specifically required by one consultee and relate to technical issues we would only re-consult the statutory consultee that triggered the concern.

“We are currently considering the terms of the new flooding information and the response from SEPA and no decision has been made on the application.”