Housing row: Developer says 20-year old plans will go ahead if revisions rejected

Housebuilder Gordon Powell will press ahead with 20-year-old housing plans for Fife if his revisions are not approved by Scottish ministers, he has confirmed.

The Raith Homes boss says he will have "no option" but to proceed with the outdated blueprint for Ladybank if the Scottish Government refuses to accept updated proposals supplementing the original plans.

Planning permission for 60 homes on land west of Church Street has been in place since 2001, thanks to a loophole in planning regulations that allows permits to exist indefinitely if work is started.

However, councillors knocked back Mr Powell's suggestion of replacing more than half of the single-storey homes with 1.5 and two storey dwellings last month, telling the housebuilder to come back with a brand new application.

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The Ladybank plans have gone to appeal
The Ladybank plans have gone to appeal

It is this refusal he is appealing to the government's planning appeals division.

Mr Powell's plea, lodged on his behalf by agents Derek Scott Planning, comes with a veiled threat to press ahead with the 20-year-old plans and all of their out-of-date baggage if he is not heard.

"Such a scenario would not be in the best interests of the proper planning and development of the area, but it is exactly what will happen in the event of the appeal proposals being rejected," the written statement notes.

"Viewed in the context of the previously granted and subsequently implemented planning permission...the proposal should have been considered favourably."

The proposed site of the development in Ladybank

Mr Powell's application is not a fresh bid - instead, it is attached to the extant Church Street permit originally granted to one-time landowner Thistle Developments.

The evergreen status of the permit - and the fact it is not bound by modern planning rules - forms the backbone of the appeal.

Thistle broke ground by demolishing a Victorian-era house and building an access road into the site - meaning when Mr Powell acquired the site for a reported £2.9 million at the end of last year, he could pick up where it left off.

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Fife Council has updated its planning policies several times over since 2001 - meaning the cul-de-sac as proposed does not meet modern principles on design and road safety.

It is also exempt from providing affordable homes or paying a contribution towards local amenities such as schools or GP surgeries, as the original plan pre-dates the policies that made such subsidies a requirement of large-scale housing developments.

Planning officers have conceded that the application would not be green-lit were it to be introduced as new.

Whle they had given their support to updating the extant permit, planning committee members did not agree.

Howe of Fife and Tay Coast SNP councillor David MacDiarmid, who led on refusing the plans, said in June: “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."

If government reporters do deny his appeal, Mr Powell is legally able to proceed with the older plans.

The appeal continues an ongoing row between his Raith Homes firm and Ladybank residents who believe the plans should be revised wholesale.

Mr Powell said he had no further comment to make when contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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