Villagers who successfully fought to keep their only pub fear alterations to the former coaching inn could see them lose it.
Kingsbarns residents won a battle in 2001 to stop the then-Cambo Arms being converted into accommodation. Fife Council agreed it should be retained as a pub because of its importance to the community.
Current owners of what is now the Inn at Kingsbarns have been allowed to make internal and external alterations, including the addition of two guest bedrooms and owner accommodation.
Villagers say public access is already limited and described the approved planning application as a Trojan horse for a change in use from pub to hotel of the listed building, which dates back to the 1800s.
Kingsbarns Community Council member Nick Lunan said the alterations would significantly reduce public space and added: “This might effectively seal the fate of our seriously compromised pub and could have been the last chance to save our pub.”
Kate Holy, fellow community councillor, claimed the inn’s restaurant was already for residents only – disputed by the owner – and access was limited to the public bar.
She said: “The front bar is already very, very small and people in the village are finding it difficult getting access to it. It has ceased to be a local pub.”
Planners advised Fife Council’s north east planning committee the building’s classification was that of a hotel rather than a public house.
They said objectors could pursue concerns over its status through planning enforcement legislation, which Ms Holy said they intend to do.
Max Preston, who took over the Main Street business three years ago with wife Annette, said the restaurant and bar were open to the public but had limited capacity.
He added: “We run a successful hotel, and it’s a hotel rather than a pub, we have a hotel licence.”
He also pointed out many similar businesses were struggling to survive or had closed due to rates and lifestyle changes and said: “We are doing what we have to do as a hotel and that’s it.”
Mr Preston also insisted the pub had not been sold, contrary to a listing by estate agency NovaLoca.
The selling agent had described the premises as a recently upgraded and renovated village inn with various planning consents passed or in progress including “possible residential conversion of the business and property”.
The fight to retain the pub two decades ago was backed by the Campaign for Real Ale, and the victory was upheld by a Scottish Government reporter after appeal.
At the time, planners said the bar made such a significant contribution to the local community they were not prepared to allow its use to change. They also said that as it was on the main tourist route to St Andrews it should exploited to it is full potential.