Scotland’s planning process is descending into a shambles, according to a Fife MP.
A prime example was the recent approval of Cala Homes’ development in Aberdour which proved without a doubt that the system is fundamentally broken, said Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP Lesley Laird.
“The Scottish Reporter’s decision dealt a devastating blow to hundreds of weary Aberdour residents who had campaigned long and hard despite the odds being stacked against them.
“It wasn’t a case of nimbyism – the community had valid reasons to object.
“The 85-house proposal south of Main Street added significant strain to what’s already a known bottleneck for traffic at the village’s north entrance.”
That was part of the reason the site was originally rejected through FifePlan.
“The proposal also formed part of a perfect storm of intense developer interest in Aberdour itself – three large building firms targeted the village simultaneously with the hope of securing major housing developments – Cala, Campion and Hillside.
“Hillside was approved but sadly that did not deter the others and now Cala have also been rewarded for their persistence over the democratic will of local people and the local authority.”
She said the scheme will drastically alter the size and character of the village, place strain on GP services and education and impact on traffic volumes.
Mrs Laird said despite Cala’s application and first appeal to a Scottish Government Reporter being rejected, the “current shambles” in the planning process simply opened the door to yet a further appeal.
Two major factors led to this “folly” – the Reporter apparently ignored FifePlan and a colleague’s earlier decision to reject the site and the fact the decision was based on SESPlan1 – a “completely outdated and discredited planning blueprint” which had been corrected through SESPlan2.
This combined with communities being afforded no power to lodge a final appeal.
Communities were, she argued, locked in a war of because the Scottish Parliament continued to allow it to happen.
“The sad conclusion of all of this is that, unless there is political will to enact change, absurd planning decisions such as that made in Aberdour will continue to happen,” she added.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We believe the planning bill will greatly improve the system by facilitating early involvement in development planning and giving communities a right to plan their own places.
“Decisions on individual applications will be guided by that strong engagement.
“A third party right of appeal will simply fuel further conflict at the end of the process and centralise more decisions.”