Plans for a park and ride service from the north of Fife will be laid out on Monday for people in Newport, Tayport and Wormit. Transport body SESTRAN intends to create park and ride facilities south of the Tay Road Bridge so people can be bussed into Dundee, reducing the number of vehicles crossing the bridge every day. Two options for the South Tay Park and Ride project have been developed, one with 458 spaces and the other 350 spaces. These have been costed at just over £4 million and £3.67 million an expense criticised by one local official. It is expected that many users will be from Newport, Wormit, Tayport and the surrounding area who work in Dundee. SESTRAN representative Trond Haugen will attend the meeting of Newport and Wormit community council on Monday to present the proposals. Members of Tayport community council have been invited to attend the presentation, which will be open to the public. Councillor Tim Brett urged people to view the proposals and give their opinions while they remain at the planning stages. He said, "I am very pleased that there will be an opportunity for both the Newport and Wormit and Tayport community councils to be briefed on the proposed park and ride facility at the south end of the road bridge. "I know that this has changed from the original proposals that I saw and the local communities will be interested to see the detail of where this will be located and how it will work." He added, "Given the success of the Ferrytoll park and ride facility at the Forth Bridge, I believe that there is potential for a similar facility at the Tay Road Bridge. "At this stage the local community has not had an opportunity to see and comment on the plans and no decisions have been made in terms of its inclusion in the local plan. "I hope that members of the public will be interested in this and will come along to next week's meeting to hear about the proposals." With a multi-million-pound price tag and deep public cuts looming, questions have been raised over whether the project is the best use of funds. Conservative councillor Ron Caird said he understands the need to cut carbon emissions but is against spending the significant sum. He said, "Dundee doesn't want to create any more parking spaces as I understand it and so a park and ride is expected to help. "But I am not happy about that amount of expenditure." Meanwhile Newport, Wormit and Forgan community council chairman Stewart McKiddie cautiously welcomed the plans. The council, which lodged an objection over Fife Council's separate 'park and choose' facility near the Forgan Roundabout in Newport, are due to vote on the matter following next week's meeting. Mr McKiddie said, "Parking in Dundee is a nightmare and to have a park and ride facility would help local people." The meeting in Newport's Upper Blyth Hall starts at 7.30pm.
Communities living on the Fife side of the Tay have been told to rest assured plans are in place to cope in the event of an emergency. A community emergency plan has been drawn up by the Newport, Wormit and Forgan community council, which can be launched when unforeseen problems arise from severe weather and power failures to flu outbreaks and major accidents. The new document, which has been developed in partnership with Fife Council, identifies members of the community council emergency committee who will help coordinate voluntary emergency support and help those most in need. Councillor Tim Brett, who helped launch the plan this week, said: “We’re aware that emergencies can adversely affect businesses and cause great distress to people. By being prepared and organised, communities are more able to cope. “I’m really pleased that the residents of these communities have taken the initiative and would urge other communities to use the council’s emergency resilience team to help them to develop their own emergency plans. These plans complement and assist the emergency services should a situation arise.” The plan notes how the communities along the Tay are particularly at risk when emergencies strike. It points out how reliant most local people are on the Tay Road Bridge, which can regularly close due to high winds or other reasons. Alternative routes involve a 55-mile round trip via the Friarton Bridge, while there are stretches of the B946 that have no parallel route, leading to problems if there is a blockage or a landslide. The plan also notes the area’s topography, with severe weather posing its own problems to communities on a slope, and highlights the potential impact of a traffic accident in the tight-knit communities. Rick Dunkerley, depute emergency coordinator, said: “Obviously, it is impossible to cover every eventuality, but with the help of experts from Fife Council we believe that we have built sufficient flexibility into the plan to improve our response in most cases. “By exploring our unique situation we feel that we have produced a resilient plan that will help the community should an emergency occur.” In the event of an emergency, information will be posted on the Newport, Wormit and Forgan community council Facebook page. Information regarding the emergency plan can be found at www.fifedirect.org.uk/NWFCC emergencyplan and on the church and community noticeboards, while a hard copy has been placed in the reference section of the Newport library. Community councillors will also be kept as fully briefed as possible during any emergency situation.
Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
Tributes were this week paid to a former Fife councillor who passed away on Monday, aged 85. Edith McFee was a councillor for 21 years, representing Newport, Tayport and Wormit. Born in Dundee, she was brought up in Newport and educated at Harris Academy before moving to Wormit with her late husband Douglas, a draughtsman, and daughter Tracey, now a dentist. Among the local issues she fought for was the retention of Netherlea Hospital, in Newport, when there were fears it might close. She also battled against the testing of a genetically modified crop near Newport and for a secondary school for the north of Fife. It was the demolition of the old Wormit Primary School, which she wanted to be used as a community centre, that inspired Mrs McFee to become involved in politics. Former colleagues of the Liberal Democrat have spoken of her hard work and popularity. North East Fife MSP Iain Smith was her election agent when Mrs McFee won the Newport and Tayport seat on Fife Regional Council in a by-election in 1982. He said, "Edith was a tireless campaigner for her local community. She had a particular interest in the health and wellbeing of older residents, and was a strong supporter of Netherlea Hospital and St Serf's Home. "She was deeply loved and respected by her constituents and will be sorely missed, not least by her daughter and grandchildren." Tim Brett, her successor in the Newport and Wormit ward of Fife Council after she retired in 2003, said he was saddened to hear of her death.Community"Edith was always regarded as someone who took a particular pride in standing up for her local community," he said. "She was very much a local member who fought for all of her constituents whatever the issue was, and I think that is how she will be remembered." Newport, Wormit and Forgan Community Council secretary Kate Legg, who served on the community council with Mrs McFee and canvassed with her when she stood for election, described her as an active councillor. She said, "She was a very well-respected and well-liked councillor who would go out of her way to help people. She was a very well-known face in Newport and Wormit. "Along with her husband Doug she worked tirelessly for the Liberal Party, as it was in those days." Before becoming a councillor Mrs McFee worked as a market researcher and a milliner in Draffens, Dundee. She was also the founder of the Maude Pilkington Trust which assists people in the Newport, Wormit, Gauldry and Balmerino area. In retirement, she enjoyed tending her garden and caring for her cats. Latterly she was a resident in St Andrews House Care Home. She is survived by Tracey, son-in-law Rodney and grandchildren Scott and Suzie.
Controversial plans which it is feared could increase Wormit's population by a quarter are back in the pipeline. Fife Council rejected plans for up to 200 new homes in November but developers Stewart Milne Homes and Linlathen Developments have taken their scheme to the Scottish Government in the hope it will overturn the council ruling. People in Wormit fought the proposals for land north-east of Kilmany Road, warning that the village would be "swamped" and its infrastructure and services, including its school and roads, would be unable to cope. It was also claimed they could be a Trojan horse for further development, as Stewart Milne Homes and Linlathen Development had drawn up a masterplan showing another 150 houses on two adjacent sites and development for commerce, retail and education in what they described as an "urban extension" to the village. However, both firms accuse the council of failing to meet obligations on the supply of housing land it placed upon itself. In the appeal, agent Turley Associates states, "The local planning authority has failed to grasp the acute and severe issue of the housing land supply deficit in the St Andrews and north-east Fife housing market area at this time." The council rejected the plans on the grounds that the 17.3 hectares of farmland the companies want to build on is outside the Wormit settlement boundary and the development contravened policy on new housing in the countryside. It also went against the development on visual amenity grounds and councillors said a precedent would be set for further development to the detriment of the area's rural character. However, Stewart Milne Homes and Linlathen Developments say that the council overstated the position in regard to landscape impact, which they say would be minimal, and that the need for housing is sufficient justification for the "insignificant" impact on the landscape setting of Wormit. A campaign of opposition was launched in the village after the proposals emerged in August 2009. Stewart McKiddie, chairman of Newport, Wormit and Forgan Community Council, pointed out that Fife Council had been unanimous in finding against the planning application. "The community council will continue to support local residents in their opposition to this development," he said. "We welcome any opportunity to take part in challenging this appeal. "There are brownfield sites in the area which continue to deteriorate and detract significantly from the village's appearance and which should be used before prime agricultural land." The planning application was the first of its type to be considered under new processes which meant it could not be dealt with solely by the north-east area committee as previously. Instead it went before the planning committee before being taken to the full council.
A picturesque Newport landmark will be given a much-needed facelift if enough cash can be found. Planning permission has been granted to refurbish the fountain in Tay Street and Fife Council has pledged £35,000 towards the £73,000 project. Now Newport, Wormit and Forgan community council is looking to raise the balance so that work can begin. The canopied drinking fountain, built in 1882, was donated to Newport by Blyth Martin, a member of a Dundee jute family who also donated nearby Blyth Hall. The B-listed structure, made by Walter Macfarlane at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, is regarded as a fine example of a Victorian drinking fountain but has seen better days. The plan is to take the canopy to a workshop for refurbishment. Railings, most of which are likely to need replacing, will also be removed so the plinth and cope stones can be repaired. Newport Primary School is helping with the project. To support a further grant application, the community council needs to demonstrate local support.
The clock is ticking for residents in Wormit trying to save their "lifeline" bus service. The 77B route is among a swathe of routes facing reductions as Stagecoach claims it is no longer sustainable. The route will see a reduction in the number of buses stopping at Norwood and Crosshill Terrace — the "hilly parts" as Councillor Jonny Tepp described them. The councillor said many elderly people in that area rely on the bus to get them to medical appointments and the chemist. The bus operator said it is in talks with Fife Council and insist a final decision has yet to be made. Newport, Wormit and Forgan Community Council will discuss the issue with Stagecoach representatives next week but the deadline for the online public consultation is this Friday. Secretary Kate Legg, said: "It is a lifeline to elderly people who live up the hill in Wormit and Newport. "It stops at the doctor surgery and chemist in Newport and a lot of people rely on that. It is particularity vital this is saved. "A lot of people who will be affected by the changes do not deal with email so the meeting will be their first chance to speak to Stagecoach about how they feel. "It's a shame the public consultation will be finished before we get a chance to meet them, but they have agreed to send two representatives. We hope they will keep their ears open until the meeting. "We have been around speaking to a people and a lot have said they are going to be there, but we would encourage as many people as possible to come so that the company know it's not just one or two people that are going to be affected." Liberal Democrat councillor for Tay Bridgehead Mr Tepp said: "I have had streams of emails from residents saying the service is a lifeline and it is not slowing down. "The affected parts of the route are the hilly parts of Wormit and Newport. There are a lot of older people there who need the service and have said it will affect their lives considerably. "I do feel that Stagecoach could have done more to let people know about the changes and their consultation period. We've been around with leaflets, talking to people and posting on social media so people know about it. "Even though the consultation period will be over, I'm sure they would not send representatives to a meeting just to listen and say 'that's interesting, but the public consultation is over'. That would make me angry." Douglas Robertson, Stagecoach East Scotland commercial director, said: "We have found that usage of the 75 service is continually very low. Similarly, continued low passenger usage of off peak service 77B journeys means these are no longer sustainable. "We are currently in talks with Fife Council to assess this situation further. We'll use customer feedback, coupled with the discussions held with local councillors and from our attendance at the community council meeting next week, to fully analyse all possibilities and revisions, prior to any decisions being made about these services." The community council will meet at Blyth Hall, Newport, on March 26 at 7.30pm.
Developers plan to demolish Netherlea Hospital in Newport to make way for homes costing up to £650,000. Boasting views across the Tay and a few minutes’ drive from Dundee, a two bedroom flat at the site could cost around £275,000. Law Property Group, who are acting as agents for the developers, said it was a prime development for local residents looking to downsize. But the initial drawings have been branded “hideous” and “like Lego” and the local community council said it was “surprised” by the price range. Kate Legg, who is secretary of Newport, Wormit and Forgan Community Council, said: “We were a bit surprised at the cost of the houses. “There’s a similar development in St Andrews, which has sold at I think similar prices. I can’t say people won’t buy them, but not many people I know in Newport would.” Mrs Legg said downsizers, in particular those who are elderly, preferred a bungalow. “Builders don’t want to build bungalows because they need a larger plot of land than a two storey house,” she added. In one comment on the community council’s Facebook page the plans were described as “hideous concrete creations.” Another said the properties were “like Lego buildings” and “probably not within the reach of a lot of current Newport residents”. Between 35 and 45 properties, which would be up to four storeys high, are planned for the hospital site. Netherlea Hospital, which closed in 2011, would be demolished. David Hagan from Law Property Group said: “We’ve talked to the planners and there’s not a great appetite for keeping the hospital. “It wasn’t a great building in the first place and it’s not in a great condition. It’s not an attractive building.” He said a planning application could be submitted by the end of April. “These homes are going to have fantastic views across the Tay, to the Law, Sidlaws and the new V&A. “The development and landscape design will be world class.” The plans are currently on display at Newport Library. “The reason for having the display at Newport Library is so our ideas can be informed by feedback," he added. “We’ve already had some positive feedback but there are a couple of things people have said they didn’t like.” History of Netherlea Netherlea is a red sandstone mansion which was built in the late 19th century. It started off as the home of local shipowner Andrew Leitch. During the second world war, it served as an officers’ mess for a Norwegian Air Force squadron stationed at Woodhaven, which is between Newport and Wormit. After the war it was turned into a maternity unit and in 1974 became a long-stay hospital for elderly patients. It was designated a community hospital in 1997, catering for up to 10 patients. But as NHS Fife reviewed its estate amid budget pressures, Netherlea was deemed no longer fit for purpose. And its closure coincided with a shift away from residential care and towards keeping people at home for longer. The health board also said the range and complexity of patient needs was growing evermore challenging for the hospital.
Fife is to begin harnessing the sun’s energy on an industrial scale, with the region’s first solar farms approved. Some 5,000 panels are to be installed near Tayport, more than 3,300 at Wormit and a similar number in Crail, in three separate renewable energy projects. The solar farms will also be among the first in Scotland, following the launch last week of the country’s largest with 7,000 panels in, Rothienorman, Aberdeenshire. Several others are in the pipeline around the region, including at Thornton, Saline, Blairhall, Milton of Balgonie and Cameron. Green Hedge Renewables had hoped that Wormit, the first Scottish village to get electricity, would also be a pioneer for the solar industry north of the border. The Bath company hopes to start construction early in the new year, with the four-megawatt site, capable of powering 1,300 homes, operational by April. Farm project planner Adam Banting said: “We are delighted with the decision and would like to thank the local community for all their feedback and support over the last six months. “It is great to be bringing solar power north of the border and to be helping Scotland reach its ambitious renewable energy targets.” It is not known when the five-megawatt farms at Sypsies, Crail, and, Kirkton Barns,Tayport, will be built. Their panels will be around 2.7m high and those at Wormit 2.5m high and surrounded by fences, tree and hedge screening. While there were no objections to the Crail solar farm, both north Fife projects attracted some opposition, with concerns about the visual impact, noise and road safety during construction. Green Power Consultants, behind the Tayport panels, was accused of ignoring the community while consultation was conducted in Wormit, but failed to respond to calls from The Courier. Tay Bridgehead councillor Tim Brett said: “The community feel very let down that they haven’t had their questions answered.” Fife Council planner Chris Smith said while developers were encouraged to consult with communities there was no legal obligation. Planning applications for the north Fife farms were approved by the council’s north east planning committee while the Crail development was granted under delegated powers.
Controversial plans for flats designed to take advantage of views over the Tay to the new V&A in Dundee have been submitted. The former Netherlea Hospital in Newport-on-Tay could be demolished and replaced with four blocks comprising a mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments. If the plans from Sutherland Hussey Harris are approved, the developers reckon work on site could begin next year and be complete in 2019. However, there is likely to be some opposition to the plans after locals branded initial designs “hideous” and “like Lego”, and baulked at suggestions the new homes could cost up to £650,000. The new proposal would see the former Netherlea Hospital, which closed in 2011 and has been the target for vandalism in more recent times, flattened to make way for the development. Sutherland Hussey Harris said the proposal aimed to provide “new contemporary homes for local home owners who plan to downsize”. “Newport-on-Tay has many large Victorian villas but very few contemporary houses that provide modern qualities with the expansive views across the River Tay towards Dundee,” the company added. “The proposal subdivides the site into four sub-plots each containing a free standing building, further subdivided into smaller units with open pends in between. “There are several flat types providing a variety of layout configurations, each with aspect to the river.” The company said the housing units had been designed to “mediate between public and private space giving the resident opportunity to choose between the activity of the public spaces or privacy of private gardens”. It added that the intention was to create a “distinctive” environment, both “contemporary and complimentary to the quality of the wider area”. It is understood the bid is not being treated as a live application at the moment, as more information has been requested by planners. However, one comment on the Newport, Wormit and Forgan community council’s Facebook page labelled the apartments as “hideous concrete creations”, while another said the properties were “probably not within the reach of a lot of current Newport residents”. Kate Legg, community council secretary, previously suggested that downsizers, in particular elderly people, preferred one-storey living. “Builders don’t want to build bungalows because they need a larger plot of land than a two-storey house,” she concluded.