Revised plans for a new retail park on a prominent site in Cupar have been given the green light – despite concerns it will mean the death knell for the town centre.
Members of north-east Fife’s planning committee gave permission for seven new units on the former Reekies garage site on South Road.
Around 100 jobs are expected to be created as a result of the £10 million investment.
Consent had been given for a similar scheme, consisting of six units in April 2017.
The fresh proposal increases the number of units by one, while reducing the overall size of the development from 4,321 square metres to 3,807sq m.
Eleven objections were lodged, including one from Cupar Community Council, highlighting fears about the impact on the town centre and concerns about traffic along the already busy South Road.
Some councillors expressed misgivings, but council solicitor Steven Paterson warned the committee it would be “perverse” to reject the application, given the fact consent for a similar scheme was granted only a year-and-a-half ago.
He said the chances of the council successfully defending any appeal were “virtually nil”.
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Councillors voted 11-2 in favour of an amendment put forward by Conservative councillor Andy Heer and seconded by Liberal Democrat councillor Tim Brett which recommended approval but asked the planning committee or the area committee to address transportation issues.
Conservative councillor Linda Holt was one of several who expressed concerns about what the new retail park could do to the town centre.
“To say Cupar High Street is perfectly healthy is bonkers, given what we’ve seen up and down the country,” she said.
“If we’ve got a working High Street we don’t want to do anything that’s going to threaten that, and the judgement of people here is that this is going to damage Cupar High Street.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Jonny Tepp agreed, highlighting his fear it would be “another nail in the coffin” for the High Street.
He said: “I don’t have any faith in the predictions being made because it just flies in the face of all common sense.”
Concern was also raised about the south-west corner of the site next to South Road, which did not form part of the proposal tabled and is expected to be subject to a future application.
Speculation it may accommodate a drive-thru restaurant sparked more worries about road safety and traffic volume in the area.
Case officer Martin Patrick said the decision not to include that part of the site at this time had been a commercial one on the part of the applicant.
Liberal Democrat Bill Porteous moved approval of the plans but wanted a further transporation plan carried out in light of that prospect, but that was voted down.