Revived plans to create a Milnathort conservation area should be dropped if they can’t secure local community support, claim councillors.
Kinross-shire Civic Trust has asked Perth and Kinross Council to designate Milnathort a conservation area in the next local development plan.
The trust’s plans failed to gain the support of the Milnathort community two years ago when the local community council opposed the proposals.
However, the trust has opted to press forward with its plans, based on the many historic buildings and features within Milnathort’s boundaries, including 35 listed buildings.
The proposed conservation area boundary stretches around sections of South Street, New Road, Wester Loan, Manse Road and Stirling Road.
The community council refused to back the proposal after residents saw no benefit to a conservation area.
At a 2014 public meeting, residents believed that if the status of Milnathort were to change it should be generated by internal will, rather than by ‘unelected pressure groups’.
The community also felt it was too late to designate a conservation area in the village as the majority of the old buildings, such as the mills and market, have gone, with historical buildings remembered only by road names.
Kinross-shire councillor Joe Giacopazzi said: “I’d be more inclined to support a conservation area in Milnathort if there were evidence of enthusiasm from the people who live there.
“Also, if the purpose of conservation areas status is to preserve its character and appearance, I’d need to be convinced that these were at risk. I’ve lived in Milnathort all my days and, honestly, it has hardly changed.”
“There is a bureaucratic cost to the council involved in creating and maintaining a conservation area and one wonders whether, at a time of austerity and reductions in spending, this is the best use of resources.”
Fellow Kinross-shire Councillor Dave Cuthbert agreed, stating: “I do not think that a conservation area in Milnathort would be a good idea.
“The first and most important factor for me is that Milnathort Community Council, which was elected to represent the area, has stated that they do not want a conservation area in their village.
“Secondly, the exercise of creating a conservation area is expensive. The figure I was told recently was in the order of £20,000.
“Personally, I would rather see this money being spent on saving front line services which are being cut or perhaps a pelican crossing on the High Street in Kinross.”
Kinross-shire Civic Trust stated that their aim was to ensure future developments recognise and are sympathetic to the history of the area.
Trust member Ken Miles said: “The area being proposed is a very specific core of the old part of the town which currently includes streets with a high number of listed buildings.
“Taking these core areas and giving them a conservation status adds further to their protection and ensures that any future development is in keeping with its surroundings.”