Fife developer pledges to push on with 20-year-old plans
Housebuilder Gordon Powell has said he will push on with 20-year-old housing plans for Fife if his firm’s revisions are not approved by MSPs.
Mr Powell, who is the chief executive of Raith Homes, said he will have “no option” but to proceed with the outdated blueprint for Ladybank if the Scottish Government refuses to accept updated proposals supplementing the original plans.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 has started.
However, councillors rejected Mr Powell’s suggestion of replacing more than half of the single-storey homes with 1.5 and two-storey dwellings last month, urging him to come back with a new application.
Consequently, Mr Powell is now taking this refusal up with the government’s planning appeals division.
Mr Powell’s appeal, 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by agents Derek Scott Planning, comes with a veiled threat to press ahead with the 20-year-old plans and all of their out-of-date rules if he is unsuccessful.
The written statement reads: “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.
“Viewed in the context of the previously granted and subsequently implemented planning permission…the proposal should have been considered favourably.”
Mr Powell’s application is attached to the existing Church Street permit, originally granted to onetime landowner Thistle Developments.
The status of the permit – and the fact it is not bound by modern planning rules – forms the backbone of the appeal.
Thistle broke ground when it demolished a Victorian-era house and built an access road into the site – meaning that when Mr Powell acquired the site for a reported £2.9 million at the end of last year, he could pick up where it had left off.
Fife Council has updated its planning policies several times since 2001 – meaning the cul-de-sac as proposed does not meet modern principles on design and road safety, The Courier reports.
Raith Homes is also exempt from providing affordable homes or paying a contribution towards local amenities like 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 have been approved now if it was introduced as new. They added that while they had given their support to updating the existing 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: “If anything 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 officers deny his appeal, Mr Powell is legally able to proceed with the older plans – despite their outdated design and layout.