Fife's new £180m super campus on course to open in 2024
Fife College has welcomed approval of the masterplan for its £180 million 'super-campus' on the eastern edge of Dunfermline.
Councillors approved the principle of the Dunfermline Learning Campus project, which blends a new college building with replacements for Woodmill and St Columba's high schools along with £70m of housing and public amenities.
Following the decision by the central and west planning committee, a spokesperson for the college said the project remained on track for opening in August 2024.
“This is another important step in the development of the Dunfermline Learning Campus," the representative said.
“Fife College Fife Council and our partners are developing an innovative, collaborative new campus, and we’re excited at what we can achieve here.
“We’re committed to providing lifelong learner opportunities and smoothing the learner journey at every level for those living in the region.
“We aim to have the new campus open in Summer 2024, and we look forward to continuing our engagement with the local community as we go through this process.”
While the broad outline for the project has been approved, more detailed proposals will have to be submitted to Fife Council planners for overall consent before construction can begin.
However, elected members have expressed cynicism at some aspects of the plan - particularly the 16-pump petrol station mooted for the north-east of the site.
Campaigners from the Save The Calais Muir Wildlife group are concerned that it will act as a de facto service station for the M90 and appease the heavy goods traffic coming in and out of the Amazon warehouse less than one mile away.
It had been suggested that refusing any part of the plan could jeopardise the entire project - a claim now refuted by council planners.
Council case officer Katherine Pollock told councillors: "The pub/restaurant, coffee drive thru and petrol filling station all form an integral part of the mix of uses within the masterplan and as a roadside facility and therefore, it would not be reasonable to break these uses up."
Cllr Andrew Verrecchia said: "Nobody wants to see schools not constructed but my concerns are the other things around it - particularly the petrol station.
"I find it unbelievable that something as massive as these buildings can fall on the back of a petrol station.
"Are we saying a petrol station could potentially block two high schools and a college or will they come individually for us to assess the merits on an individual basis?"
Pollock replied: "What you're looking at today is planning permission in principle for all the uses in that masterplan. It would not be appropriate to pick and choose uses from the masterplan to consider separately. What you're considering today is all those land uses as a whole."
She added: "The reserved matters applications [those required prior to construction] can come forward for the details of those individual uses in the future."
The Calais Muir campaign group has praised councillors for listening to their concerns.
The group said on social media after the decision: "Our local councillors have listened to us and have really engaged and put many of our community concerns across to planners.
"Once more detailed applications come in we will get chances again to influence decisions. We are making waves and they are getting bigger."