A controversial housing plan for a picturesque Fife village has been approved, despite contravening planning guidelines.
Councillors narrowly approved proposals to construct 61 new homes in Lower Largo, amid fears that Fife Council could not win a planning appeal should they go ahead and refuse the application.
Housing was earmarked for land to the north of Selkirk Park, off Durham Wynd, but there was widespread concern from members of the region’s central area planning committee that a SUDS pond, deemed necessary for drainage, would be constructed on land officially designated as countryside.
Many people also voiced fears over road safety on the busy A915 and the impact that the new development could have.
However, despite a motion to reject the proposal, some members were not convinced that an appeal by the developer, Lundin Homes Ltd, could be seen off.
Councillor David Alexander backed Altany Craik’s motion for refusal, agreeing that the construction of a SUDS pond outwith the permitted zone was a boundary in itself that could not be crossed.
“There is going to be houses on this site,” he said. “The question is whether it is this application or another.
“But if the lines are drawn then we should not cross them.”
A total of 41 letters of objection were received by Fife Council leading up to the decision.
Like councillors, they referenced fears over road safety, the loss of agricultural land, as well as it being contrary to the Local Plan.
Planning officers, meanwhile, maintained that the development posed no threat to the operation of a gas pipeline in the vicinity of the site.
The application was finally approved by seven votes to four, although Councillor Marie Penman stated her belief that the new housing could help rejuvenate Lower Largo.
“I spoke to a local estate agent who said that 30% of properties in Lower Largo are holiday homes,” she said.
“The school roll is just 36 and social housing would bring life to the area.
“The community there is becoming a retirement village and that is not a reason to turn down housing.
“I can see why some don’t want change but it is happening all over Fife,” she said.
While not a member of the committee, local councillor Alistair Hunter was present at the meeting and voiced his dismay following its decision.
He said: “I’m bitterly disappointed for the local community who opposed this site and who will have to live with the consequences of traffic congestion in an unsuitable location.
“I’m dismayed by the planning system, which seems heavily stacked in favour of developers rather than communities.”
With reference to the SUDS pond he added: “I’m glad that the committee recognised this flaw in the application but disappointed that it never upheld the motion to refuse.”