Blueprint for £180m super school campus in Fife is signed off by councillors
The blueprint of Fife's new £180 million 'super-school' campus has been signed off, paving the way for more detailed proposals to come forward.
Planning permission 'in principle' has been granted for Dunfermline Learning Campus on the former Hyundai/Motorola site at Halbeath - effectively a sign-off on the idea of the development, but not a permit to build.
That will require further, more detailed plans to be submitted to the council's planning department.
Councillors on Fife Council's central and west planning committee say they broadly support the concept of the plan - but are reserving the right to give the plans more scrutiny as they are developed.
Labour councillor Helen Law, convener of the Dunfermline Area Committee, said: "It's important to get concerns raised at an early stage, even if it's just for officers to hear.
"I don't think anyone come here today planning to move against this multi-million-pound development.
"We're really happy this is going through today, it's really good news for Dunfermline, but we have to make sure we get everything right and don't just let it run through without thinking about what folks' concerns are."
The £250m scheme has been developed by landowner Shepherd Offshore together with Fife Council, Fife College and housebuilders Bellway Homes and Persimmon Homes.
They propose new Fife College Dunfermline campus, new Woodmill and St Columba's high schools, a nursery, 225 additional homes, a pub/restaurant, a care home, assisted living apartments, a drive-thru coffee shop and a 16-pump petrol station.
However, local residents and conservationists are concerned at the scale of the development, its effect on Calais Muir Woods to the south and the necessity for a petrol station at the north-west corner of the site.
The 16-pump facility would be a stone's throw from web giant Amazon's warehouse - leading to accusations from some that it will effectively be a motorway service station and truck stop in disguise, metres away from two high schools.
Conservative member Mino Manekshaw said of the petrol station plan: "It seems biased in a particular direction against public sentiment and global need."
SNP councillor John Beare, however, suggested that taking up too many issues with the plan could lead to it collapsing altogether.
"I'm astonished at the reactions, comments and questions," he said.
"We have a potential £250 million investment in Fife and generally our role is to approve with conditions or refuse with reasons. Going off on tangents really isn't helpful in focusing us on the detail of the applications in front of us."
Katherine Pollock, the Fife Council planner tasked with assessing the proposal, said the plans adhere to all relevant council policies on building responsibly.
A 15 metre buffer zone north of the Calais Muir Woods will protect the woodland, she says, and both extra tree planting and a planned payment of £1.64 million will mitigate the impact of further tree felling and the loss of commercial land.
She has attached a plethora of conditions to the approval, requiring further detailed applications for all of the facilities to be submitted and green-lit prior to any construction going ahead.
"Education uses are aiming to be open from August 2024 and further anticipated applications will come in the summer," she told the committee today (Wednesday).
"On balance it's set to fall in accordance with the development plan."