Fife food processing firm wins planning appeal to expand its site

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A major food processing company in Auchtermuchty has finally secured permission to overturn a planning refusal.

Swan Engineering, which calls itself “one of the country’s major manufacturers of food processing equipment,” will be allowed to expand its site after the Fife Council review body overturned a planning refusal on Monday.

The planning proposals from St John’s Holdings Ltd wanted to extend the industrial unit on Station Road and create a hardstanding yard and car park. The application was originally refused, but on Monday the company won on appeal.

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“The existing business is well established and has increased in size given that it is now providing equipment worldwide,” a planning statement said. “The additional building is required to ensure that the increase in orders can be met along with providing additional job opportunities to the local area. The additional yard area is required for storage of the required materials to service these orders, along with parking.”

Swan Engineering will be allowed to expand its site after the Fife Council review body overturned a planning refusal (Pic: Submitted)Swan Engineering will be allowed to expand its site after the Fife Council review body overturned a planning refusal (Pic: Submitted)
Swan Engineering will be allowed to expand its site after the Fife Council review body overturned a planning refusal (Pic: Submitted)

The development was originally vetoed “in the interest of safeguarding the countryside” from development. The planning authority emphasised that the “large expanse of hardstanding at this location was not acceptable.”

“The proposal would result in the irreversible and unjustified loss of a greenfield site which is designated as prime agricultural land,” the refusal said.

However, developers argued that although the ground is technically classed as prime farm ground, it has not been used for food production in decades.

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A soil survey also revealed that the ground is not as “prime” as previously believed.

Councillor Ken Caldwell (SNP for Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss villages) said: “The sole reason for refusing this application was based on the removal of prime agricultural land that has now been shown to not be prime. I don’t see now with this new information why it should be refused.”

Swan Engineering currently employs 28 people, but the company said the expansion has the potential to create an additional 10 jobs.

“This particular application looks as though it is to expand what I assume is a successful business to create other employment,” Councillor Robin Lawson (Conservative for St Andrews) said. “We’ve heard that 70% of those working here are local. I would have thought that the local employment aspect should be taken into account.”

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