More than 200 people attended a public meeting in Dalgety Bay to discuss a controversial housing development planned for the town.
Persimmon Homes wants to build 150 homes on land at Barns Farm, agricultural land that has been put on the market by Shell UK.
The proposal has caused a furore in the town because the site forms part of the safety zone around Braefoot Bay oil terminal.
Concerns have also been raised about the town not having the appropriate infrastructure in place to cope with the demand of a possible additional 150 families moving into the area.
Other issues highlighted by the community include potential damage to farm land and ecology, impact on quality of life and potential flooding risks.
This is not the first time a developer has eyed Barns Farm for housing and the level of objection has always been so strong that councillors removed the site from the draft document last September, following the FIFEplan consultation process.
Dalgety Bay MSP Alex Rowley told those who attended the meeting at Dalgety Parish Church that he is concerned Persimmon could attempt to “get in through the back door” by using the fact Fife Council is failing to maintain a five-year housing land supply level as a reason to convince a Scottish Government reporter to grant planning consent.
He said planning officers had advised him that any application being made would have to be considered by the full Fife Council, given it would be such a significant departure from the local plan and pending FIFEplan.
The meeting was arranged by the community council after a public consultation by Persimmon on its proposals, which members deemed “restrictive and lacking in information”.
Community council chairman Colin McPhail said two solutions to the issue are for Shell UK to either sell the land to a farmer who has declared an interest in it or to donate it to the community.
“This proposal brings no good to the town and we cannot continue to be harassed in this way,” he added.
Mr Rowley said: “The fact that hundreds of people turned up to the meeting to show their objection to the proposal speaks volumes.
“My concern is that a decision may be taken on this application that is outwith the democratic process. We need assurances from Fife Council that this will not happen and I have set up a meeting with the executive director on March 13 to discuss this.
“I am happy to support housing developments in areas of Fife which need regeneration such as Kelty or Benarty but Dalgety Bay is not one of those areas.”
People were invited to air their views at the meeting and many raised the point that residents already struggled to get a doctor or dentist appointment in the town because of the level of housing in the town.
One woman said: “Planners have to look at the bigger picture and the detrimental impact granting an application such as this would have on the local community.”
Another member of the audience suggested the community council speaks to senior Shell UK figures to explain to them that such a proposal is “immoral, wrong and unwelcome” and to go ahead with it would only antagonise the community it has worked in harmony with for years.
Persimmon Homes was invited to the meeting but declined to attend. Its managing director for east Scotland, Jim Kirkpatrick, said a pre-application notice had been lodged with Fife Council but said it would be “premature” to speculate on the decision-making process at this stage.
Photo by David Wardle