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Back to the drawing board - express views on housing development - do we want any? - if so, where do we want it?
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Seeking further ideas over housing plans

Gordon Berry, The Courier, 17 February 2009

The prospect of concentrated developments for over 2500 houses in Cupar and St Andrews appears to be fading as the construction industry feels an ever tightening squeeze.

Now north-east Fife area committee chairman Councillor Andrew Arbuckle has circulated community councils in the area to ask for their suggestions about how the council can disperse houses throughout villages and hamlets.

The call has come in a letter sent by Mr Arbuckle as consultation - and a degree of confusion - continues over the long-awaited St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan, which will provide a blueprint for future development in conjunction with Fife's controversial structure plan.

In his letter Mr Arbuckle said that a great deal of concern has been expressed over the number of houses that might be built in the area in the 20-year life span of the structure plan.

He said, "The government expects there to be a rise in the number of people living in northeast Fife and further believes that the trend to single people living in a house will continue to rise. Accordingly it wants to see more land allocated for housing.

"Bearing in mind the current recession, and indeed the assumptions on which the additional housing allocation has been made, there are questions about whether the housing will be built. However we are required to have an up-to-date local plan with a minimum five-year housing land supply.

"In conjunction with your local councillors, I have expressed a view that officers draw up plans to disperse the numbers of houses throughout the whole of northeast Fife.

"Such a dispersal policy will also allow smaller hamlets and villages some scope for expansion without swamping any community."

Mr Arbuckle said that he was writing to clarify the position in relation to letters sent out by the council, and also to provide a proposed future timetable.

He said that the local plan will include proposals for development sites over the next 10 years. Development services staff are working on the next version of the plan.

He added, "Some of you have already passed views to the service, and any such views are being taken into account.

"There is, however, still an opportunity for your community to express its views on where it would prefer to see development- or indeed if it does not want any development."

The councillor said that the next draft of the local plan will be brought to the May meeting of the north-east Fife area committee for comment, prior to going to Fife Council in June.

In autumn the 2009 version will be published for individuals and communities to provide their comments. It is seen as inevitable that unresolved objections will lead to a public inquiry.

Views on future development can be put to Fife councillors or to martin.mcgroarty.fife.gov.uk.

Asked yesterday if the latest move sounds the death knell for developments such as Cupar North, with around 1400 houses and a bypass, Mr Arbuckle said that these proposals are still in the structure plan.

He said, "Whether anything ever happens remains to be seen, but in the meantime there is scope for development of more homes in the East Neuk, Cupar, Tay Bridgehead and St Andrews housing market areas.

"We have always said that more development needs to be spread around small communities that need to grow and develop, and we want to hear suggestions."

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