Council rejects developer’s plan for homes in Fife town

Controversial housing plans for Ladybank that have hung around for almost 20 years may still go ahead despite developers failing to get a revised blueprint approved this week.

Raith Homes, run by businessman Gordon Powell, had hoped to change the proposals for a new estate stemming from Church Street that were first approved in 2004.

The firm's proposed updates were refused at a Fife Council meeting on Wednesday.

However, planning permission for 60 homes remains in place nearly two decades on because previous landowners, Thistle Developments, demolished a Victorian-era house and built an access road, as per the plans, before halting work on site.

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The proposed development in Ladybank

Under Scottish planning laws, projects that have been started have permission secured indefinitely until they are complete.

Following the decision, a spokesperson for the housebuilder said: "Whilst we are disappointed with the planning committee decision, we will review this against the approved housing development which is currently active at this time."

When asked if this meant the homes could be built as per the previously approved plans, they replied: "No further comment."

Raith filed its application for modifications to the existing plan - rather than a full, new planning application - at the start of the year. It proposed changing the layout slightly to create a new road in the north-west of the site, adding two public spaces to the estate and swapping some single-storey detached homes for terraces up to two storeys in height.

The proposed development site in Ladybank

Mr Powell's firm had also hoped to start work from 8:00am Monday through Saturday, an hour earlier than permitted under the existing plans.

He has already proved unpopular with some residents of Ladybank after arriving on site with diggers for preparatory works at 7.30am late last year.

Experts in transport and urban design expressed a view that the layout was of poor quality by 2021 standards.

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On the other hand, council planners recommended the updates be approved because they were technically being assessed against the old rules that sanctioned the older plans back in 2004.

However, Fife councillors felt that too much time had passed for those rules to still apply, having been replaced several times over by newer rules, and struck the plans down.

Cllr David MacDiarmid, Howe of Fife and Tay Coast SNP member, accused officers of "relaxing" too many rules and moved refusing the plans, backed by fellow ward member Conservative councillor Andy Heer.

Cllr MacDiarmid said said: "If we have transporation officers and urban layout officers raising concerns we should be raising concerns as well.

"We should be bringing this back as a fresh full planning application so it can be looked at in the 21st century rather than last century.

"We're now dealing with a completely different animal: different layout, a dogleg [road] going to nowhere, and a road leading to an empty field because we know they're wanting to build more houses.

"This is not the way I thought we did things."

Planning officer Bryan Reid acknowledged that the proposals, if presented as a full, brand new application, would have been treated with a greater degree of scepticism.

Cllr MacDiarmid's motion to refuse was passed by eight votes to five.

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