A Fife community has expressed frustration after plans to turn a local hotel into a homeless hostel were granted planning permission.
People living near the Greenside Hotel in Leslie say they are angry and disappointed that their views have not been listened to.
More than 30 people lodged objections to the proposal by New Hope Community House Ltd to transform the 15-bedroom property into a support unit for the homeless.
But many of the concerns were not regarded as planning matters and the application was approved last week.
The hostel will provide counselling and treatment for those with drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues.
And support workers and volunteers will be on hand to help them.
But many locals fear it will lead to anti-social behaviour and disturbances near their homes.
‘Community doesn’t get heard’
One man said: “I’m disappointed and frustrated. I don’t understand the planning process at all.
“It seems ludicrous that planning doesn’t take into account the impact of something like this on the community.”
The man, who asked not to be named. added: “Things can be approved even though the community isn’t for it.
“It seems totally wrong that the community doesn’t get heard.”
And a woman who lives near the hotel described the community consultation as “tokenistic”.
“The community actually had quite a voice on this, saying we’re against it,” she said.
“Then the planning committee said ‘well, actually we can only focus on planning matters’. So why involve us in the first place?
“If these facilities aren’t run properly it will have a knock-on effect on us.”
Let down by ‘archaic’ planning system
Meanwhile, local Labour councillor Jan Wincott described the committee’s decision as “deeply disappointing”.
And she claims residents have been let down by an “archaic” planning system with no third party right of appeal.
“The harm to residential amenity for this change of use will potentially be significant,” she said.
“For the applicant’s agent to say that residential amenity will be improved is difficult to believe.
“Most of the objections came from near neighbours to the Greenside and they are very concerned that, due to the zero tolerance policy of the hostel, there may now be people under the influence of drugs or alcohol being turned away from this hostel and reduced to wandering the streets of Leslie.”
Reassurances over safety and security
However, those behind the project say that will definitely not be the case.
The Greenside Hotel is now owned by a charity called Green Pastures.
It provides financial support to Christian missions to allow them to run support services in their own areas.
And in this case, they are acting on behalf of the Glenrothes-based New Hope Community Fellowship, led by Rev Ryan Robertson.
Green Pastures Scotland partnership manager, Karl Reese, said the enterprise is geared towards recovery.
And he believes many locals have misunderstood the concept.
“Green Pastures and our partners know the importance we place on safety and security and I think I’ve been able to reassure those I’ve met,” he said.
We hold with great importance our duty of care to the community, as well as to our future residents.”
Reverend Ryan Robertson.
“For years, people have come out of rehab and gone straight into independent living, facing the same challenges as they had before without a support network.
“They end up relapsing and needing rehab again.
“What we specialise in is actually going in between rehab and independent living and helping people, supporting them through to the next step.”
Meanwhile, Mr Robertson said residents of the hostel would be strictly monitored.
They will go through a selection process involving interviews and professional assessment before being offered a place.
“We hold with great importance our duty of care to the community, as well as to our future residents,” he said.