New housing on hold because schools and health centres are full

Major housing developments across Fife have been stalled amid fears schools and health centres will not be able to cope with the population boost.

Four applications for much-needed new homes, including one for 900 houses in Kelty, are on hold until money can be found for new primary schools and GP surgeries.

Community leaders say these are required to take pressure off the existing services which are already operating at capacity.

A local MSP has called on the Scottish Government to help see off a housing crisis by providing upfront cash for the necessary infrastructure.

Labour’s Alex Rowley, who represents mid Scotland and Fife, has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking that loans be provided to allow housebuilders to supply education and health services.

These would be repaid once the new homes were sold.

“The Scottish Government has an absolute need to drive housing development and this is the greatest problem that’s stalling it,” he said.

“In Kelty, I&H Brown want to build 900 houses and they believed they would have had a decision on planning by last Christmas but it’s still not been considered because of the need for a new school.

“The community is saying in order to have that type of development which will bring about regeneration we need to have infrastructure.”

He added: “The schools and nursery in Kelty are full to capacity and so is the health centre.”

Mr Rowley said the developer was willing to provide a new school but needed £8 million to do so, a sum it could not afford upfront.

Fife Council has recognised the need for development and said it was taking the problem seriously.

Chief executive Steve Grimmond said 20,000 new homes were needed in the region in the next 20 years, but added: “The provision of education infrastructure remains challenging.”

A working group has been set up with a budget of £5 million to address limitations in the school estate.

The council is also considering joining with housebuilders to approach the Scottish Government to highlight what it describes as an important issue nationally.

Mr Rowley praised the local authority’s action but said £5m was simply not enough to resolve the problem.

“Nicola Sturgeon said to me there is a loans fund available but when I looked into it I found it was for roads infrastructure and things like that,” he said.

“It specifically rules out money for schools and health centres.

“We have a housing crisis yet these developments are being blocked because there is not enough upfront capacity to put infrastructure in first.

“The government must take responsibility for that.”

The Scottish Government was asked to comment on the situation but did not do so.