Fife planners have been accused of “perverse logic” by a developer pledging to make sure its £500 million vision for Rosyth Waterfront is not dead in the water.
The Scarborough Muir Group’s proposal, which could create 5,000 jobs, would see housing, business and leisure co-exist on the prime Forth-side site.
However, there are fears the plan has sunk without trace after the long-anticipated FIFEplan said the land should be zoned for employment, effectively ruling out a mixed-use development.
Now the firm, which bought the site in 1998 when it had mixed-use planning consent, has slammed the council.
World Heritage status for the Forth Bridge and opening of the Queensferry Crossing should have been the catalyst for the re-birth of Rosyth, it said.
“Unfortunately, in 2016, Fife Council decided that they would ignore the wishes and desires of the landowners, community and local councillors and remove the mixed use allocation.
“It has been suggested that this decision was made by the Scottish Government. This is incorrect.”
SMG claimed the decision to restrict development was made by Fife Council’s planning department which produced its own “vision” for Rosyth.
The group said local councillors gave a clear message they didn’t want the waterfront to be “shackled” and that it should retain its mixed-use allocation.
It claimed Fife’s depute leader, Lesley Laird, did not support this view.
“Fife Council’s position was duly issued to the Reporter and the Reporter rubber stamped the local development plan.
“To be clear the approved LDP is the LDP that Councillor Laird and Fife Council wanted to see for Rosyth, contrary to the wishes of the local community and local councillors,” SMG said.
Scarborough Muir said the council has still not responded to issues it raised before Christmas about the potential pitfalls in the local authority’s vision for the area.
Remaining committed to the area, SMG is drawing up plans for small advance industrial units.
“Scarborough Muir refuse to let the waterfront vision fail and will take all steps necessary to overcome the perverse logic of Fife Council’s planning department and their disregard of community desires and the efforts of local companies.
“It should be noted that the lack of support for Rosyth Waterfront is at odds with the rest of Scotland where councils like Dundee are working hard to replace the old industries and support new investment on brownfield sites,” it added.
“Inaccurate and misleading”
SMG’s comments have been labelled “inaccurate and misleading” by Mrs Laird, who added the council was surprised and disappointed by the tone of its statement.
She said the local authority tried to maintain positive relationships with industrial landowners, including SMG, meeting regularly to “unlock the undoubted potential” of this site.
It was simply not accurate to say that officers did not take on board the view of the local community, she said, adding the submission on Rosyth was changed to reflect them.
“Fife Council approved the FIFEplan for submission to the Scottish Government with the following specific reference with regards to Rosyth:
‘…the waterfront remained a nationally important economic asset and so the economic designation would remain. However, it was recognised that the site had been stagnant for a prolonged period of time and that it was therefore appropriate to consider opportunities for a broader range of mixed use development options that would complement the waterfront’s role as a European gateway for trade, commerce, and tourism….’”.
Mrs Laird said officers gave the council position to the Scottish Government Reporters examining FIFEplan.
“In November 2016, the Reporter issued the final determination on FIFEplan and regrettably the Reporter did not share Fife Council or the community’s view that the site should be mixed use.
“Council Leader David Ross also wrote raising his concerns, but the decision of the Reporter is final. Saying it is otherwise is simply untrue.”
She said three strategic landowners – SMG, Babcock International and Forth Ports – alongside Scottish Enterprise and Fife Council continue to work on the development of a strategy for the Waterfront area.
“It is to be hoped that this type of statement does not undermine those efforts.”
She added SMG were at liberty to bring forward a planning application at any time “but they have simply not done so”.
“If SMG are confident in their development and that it can be delivered then they should take steps to bring forward their planning application and fulfil the hopes and expectations of the community in Rosyth.
“Rosyth Waterfront has huge potential and Fife Council remains committed to working with SMG and the other landowners along with Scottish Enterprise in promoting the truly unique capabilities and opportunities that it offers.”