Home Bargains unveils new bid to open Fife store and create over 50 jobs

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Home Bargains is back with new plans for a site in Fife. Developers say the proposals would bring in 52 jobs and £6 million of investment if approved.

After previously facing rejection from Fife Council, the national home goods company has come back with new proposals for a retail unit at Dunfermline’s Dunlin Drive. The council previously refused plans to build a 2,323sqm retail unit with an outdoor garden centre and car park. Developers subsequently appealed and lost.

However, TJ Morris Ltd - the parent company - has come back with new plans for a 1,951sqm unit and four smaller neighbourhood retail units, totalling 418 sqm.

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If approved, the new Dunlin Drive retail centre would boast 91 car parking spaces - including wheelchair parking and electric vehicle charging spaces - 12 cycle spaces and a new pedestrian pathway.

Home Bargains has returned with a new plan for the site (Pic: Google Maps)Home Bargains has returned with a new plan for the site (Pic: Google Maps)
Home Bargains has returned with a new plan for the site (Pic: Google Maps)

“The proposed development will have a number of significant economic benefits for the surrounding area and region,” developers claimed.

A total of 52 new, full time direct jobs will be created once the retail centre is up and running, and developers say it will also generate construction jobs. According to planning papers, the proposals would also result in £6 million of investment into the local area.

“The new units would also improve consumer choice in terms of retail provision, resulting in increased competition to benefit the community,” a planning statement said. “The proposal will bring this long term vacant development site into active use, improving the existing retail offer in the area and creating a vibrant new destination for the local community.”

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However, the council previously rejected similar proposals around two years ago because planners claimed the retail unit did not fit with the National Planning Framework guidelines. Planners said the garden centre and bulky goods element would have resulted in increased car journeys and would have generated traffic outside of the immediate 20 minute neighbourhood area.

They claimed that developing the scrubland, greenfield site site also would have gone against planning guidelines, and it would have gone against the local town-centre first approach to developments.

The previous application garnered 165 letters of public objection in 2022. Pre-planning consultations have highlighted remaining concerns from the community.

TJ Morris has since welcomed community feedback on its new plans. Thus far, it has received a total of 92 objections and 23 letters of support.

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“The general sense from the public exhibition was that the public are keen for investment in the area, including job creation and some individuals liked the idea of having smaller neighbourhood retail units and increased planting,” a planning statement explained.

“The main concerns focused on the scale of the Home Bargains retail unit, potential for traffic impact, and impact on biodiversity.”

The height of the building has since been reduced - it is now around 2.4 metres lower than previous plans from 2022. More bike parking has also been added, and if planning permission is granted, the retailer intends to build a three metre high acoustic fence to the south of the site to ensure there will be no detrimental impact on nearby residents.

TJ Morris is also “willing to discuss how they might be able to support local charities” and it is willing to consider letting the community “take charge” of one of the neighbourhood retail units for community uses.

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“TJ Morris is committed to ongoing investment in Fife and supporting the regional economy’s continuing recovery from the recent economic challenges resulting from the pandemic,” a planning statement continued.

However, according to a description of pre-planning discussions with the council, TJ Morris has been warned that the application is still “unlikely to be in compliance with National Planning Framework”.

It will be up to the planning authority to evaluate the new application and make a decision in due course.

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