A call for Fife Council planners to reconsider a policy which could result in around 1,400 houses being built in Cupar has been made by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.
The Cupar North proposal would see the former market town increase in size by almost one third, and Mr Rennie waded into the debate yesterday by suggesting that the scale of development would put extreme pressure on many services in the town.
The major expansion of the town was first mooted in 2005, and the Cupar North Consortium – led by three developers Persimmon Homes, Headon Developments and Vico Properties – is ploughing ahead through the planning process.
But Mr Rennie said: “I have not commented before on this proposal but when I see the concerns of national organisations such as SEPA and Transport Scotland it is obvious such a massive development should not go ahead.
“Communities should grow gradually and not have massive developments such as Cupar North thrust upon them.
“It is obvious from the many local residents who have contacted me on the matter that they are concerned about the negative effects of such a major development, such as over burdening health services and the lack of capacity in local schools for additional pupils.
“Others have mentioned the increased risk of flooding in the Lady Burn area and the lack of spare capacity in the local sewerage works as reasons why the housing development should not go ahead and local shopkeepers have expressed opposition to creating an out of town retail park which will do nothing for Cupar.”
Mr Rennie said he could not understand why the development proposal was still being considered as the original rationale was the creation of a bypass.
“The recent traffic improvements in Cupar are working well if anything, the problem lies in the traffic coming in from the south and that will not be helped by an east/west relief road on the north side of town,” he added.
“I think the planners need to revisit this proposal which has consistently been rejected by residents and local representatives.
“It may be appropriate for larger towns and cities to have this scale of housing but it would swamp Cupar and should be removed as a development site.”
However, David Wardrop, planning consultant and spokesperson for the consortium, confirmed: “The Cupar North Consortium’s current planning application is based on the principles set out in the approved development plan for the area which includes Tayplan and the adopted St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan.
“The consortium’s master plan for the expansion of Cupar aims to deliver a well-planned long-term expansion of Cupar that delivers a range of key benefits to the wider community.
“These benefits will include a new primary school, land designated for healthcare, an open space network and the new relief road which will divert heavy goods vehicles away from the town centre.
“These additional benefits cannot be delivered as a result of unplanned, incremental development around the town which will only serve to exacerbate the education, healthcare and traffic situation to the south of the town.
“As sector leading house builders with extensive local and UK wide experience we understand the market and are confident that we will improve upon the recession-based completion rates quoted to deliver an incremental development and expect these improved completion rates will have a positive effect on local businesses.
“The consortium has maintained a transparent approach throughout the planning process and is keen to work through any issues which arise as a result of the reports it has commissioned in support of the application.”