AN APPLICATION by Tesco for a new superstore in Leven has been recommended for approval by Fife Council’s planning committee – but there could be a dispute over compensation for a “loss of employment land”.
The committee recommended approval of the plans for the store on land south of Pfaudler-Balfour at Riverside, Leven, subject to a number of conditions, including a payment of £180,000 from the applicants towards employment initiatives in the Levenmouth area.
It was claimed Tesco had originally offered to make such a payment, but an email sent to the Council hours prior to the meeting on Thursday denied this had been the case.
And following the meeting, while welcoming the committee’s approval of the application, Gloria Coats, corporate affairs manager for Tesco, expressed disappointment over the request for compensation.
She said: “We are delighted Fife’s planning committee recognised the benefits of our proposed investment in Leven. The proposal will bring over 160 jobs to the area and help people to shop locally.
“We are also pleased to be able to contribute towards town centre improvements, public art, and improved transport and pedestrian links.
“However, we are disappointed officers are suggesting our proposal will lead to a loss of employment land at the Pfaudler-Balfour site and by their request for compensation.
“Our investment will enable Pfaudler-Balfour to invest in their business. We remain keen to have further discussions with council officers on this matter so that Leven can benefit from our new store and new jobs.”
At Thursday’s meeting, Jim Birrell, Fife Council’s senior manager (development and buildings), explained as well as £180,000 towards employment initiatives, Tesco would be expected to pay £110,000 towards town centre and transport improvements, and commit to spend the equivalent of one per cent of the development construction costs on public art.
These would all be covered by a legal agreement, but Mr Birrell indicated there would be room for some negotiation with Tesco on the sums involved.
The application will also require the approval of the full council before it can go ahead.
Many local traders believe the Tesco development will have an adverse impact on the on-going viability of Leven’s town centre, and despite approving the application, members of the committee did express some reservations over this. Councillor John Beare said: “I have some concerns about moving the focus of the town centre further east, and the impact this store will have on the town centre.
“I’m pleased, however, there is no impact on the proposed Leven rail link.”