140 jobs at skills academy & new crematorium in Fife face 116 objections and refusal bid

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A company’s pledge to create up to 140 new jobs at a construction skills academy which would be financially backed by a new crematorium will go before councillors this week.

Respect Developments (Scotland) Ltd and Dignity Funerals (No. 3) Ltd are joint applicants for the empty brownfield site at Southfield Industrial Estate in Glenrothes - but their plans have sparked 116 objections, and planning officers have recommended refusal. Fife Council’s west and central planning committee will have the final say at its meeting on Wednesday.

Respect Developments says the Skills Academy and manufacturing facility - which would construct timber frame house kits - will provide 120 new jobs, comprising 80 apprentices and 40 factory workers. Dignity anticipates around 10-15 new jobs to be provided as part of the new crematorium.

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The land has sat empty since 2008, and while the skills academy proposal has general support, the crematorium does not - it would not be compatible with the employment uses it is allocated for.

An artist's impression of the skills academy and crematorium planned for Glenrothes (Pic: Submitted)An artist's impression of the skills academy and crematorium planned for Glenrothes (Pic: Submitted)
An artist's impression of the skills academy and crematorium planned for Glenrothes (Pic: Submitted)

Mark Williams, Dignity’s property and logistics director, said: “It is clearly disappointing that Council officers are recommending refusal of our application, which would bring a much-needed jobs boost to Fife. The Construction Skills Academy and manufacturing facility are financially enabled through the crematorium, which will also serve to address a recognized need for such facilities in Fife.

“Our site wide approach will also benefit the local community, providing access to high-quality landscaped grounds, the alternative to this being high intensity industrial uses across the whole site, with the impact of this on neighbouring properties.

“We hope the committee looks at the overall merits of the scheme, and takes the opportunity to bring a site, which has remained vacant for more than 15 years despite extensive marketing, into productive use.”In a detailed press release issued today - ahead of Wednesday’s meeting - said a report going before councillors acknowledges that there are times when crematoria in Fife are operating at capacity, which accompanied by an ageing population, highlight a clear need for such facilities.

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But a report to councillors said the figures in the submitted ‘Need Report’ “have not been independently verified.”

The report added: “Whilst aspects of the application proposal are acceptable in principle, the proposed crematorium would constitute an unjustified change of use of allocated and designated employment land in an area where the Fife Employment Land Strategy suggests there is a shortfall in employment land availability. Insufficient marketing information has been submitted to demonstrate there is no demand for the site for employment uses based on current prevailing market conditions.

“Furthermore, concerns are raised with regard to the compatibility of the proposed crematorium use within an existing industrial estate in that it may prejudice existing and future employment operations in the area and compromise the land use strategy for the wider industrial estate. Evidence of need has been submitted with the application, however, this fails to demonstrate an overriding need for a greater cremation capacity within the area which would outweigh the loss of employment land.”The applicants insist that, in addition to creating jobs, their “proposals would serve to deliver a complementary mix of activities, with the public having access to high-quality landscaped grounds as part of the proposals.”

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