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Countrys biggest housing project in
Opponents line up to condemn plan to build 35,000 homes
Rob Edwards, Environment Editor, Sunday Herald, 19 April
Scotland's biggest and most hated house building project is
in a state of disarray after coming under near universal attack. Proposals to
build more than 35,000 new homes across Fife over the next 20 years are being
opposed by Edinburgh and Dundee councils, the government's conservation agency,
Scottish Natural Heritage, and dozens of community groups. Ministers are under
mounting pressure to rethink the controversial project.
The only groups backing the plans are Fife Council, the
local authority behind the project, and private house-builders, who argue that
new houses are needed to meet demand and to kick-start economic growth.
The latest version of Fife Council's housing plan is now
with Scottish ministers, waiting for a final decision. Objectors fear it will
get the go-ahead.
The scheme envisages a total of 35,200 new houses, mostly to
be built around existing towns. Most homes are planned for west and central
Fife, with smaller allocations near Cupar and St Andrews.
But in a recent letter to the Scottish Government, Dundee
City Council has expressed its "extreme disappointment" at the plans.
Planned new housing around Cupar they say "will inevitably
draw demand from the greater Dundee housing market".
Dundee also argued that the 20-year span of Fife's plan was
"inappropriate" because it would "constrain and undermine the ability of both
Dundee and Edinburgh authorities to formulate appropriate strategies".
Edinburgh City Council originally objected to Fife's plan
because it was worried about the increase in commuter traffic on the Firth of
Forth. It has not altered its view.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has also written to
ministers, strongly criticising Fife's plan. "We remain concerned that many of
the large allocations of land for development have been identified without
regard for the capacity of the natural heritage to accommodate such scale of
development," said Niall Corbet, SNH's Forth and Borders operations
Penny Uprichard, an executive member of the Association for
the Protection of Rural Scotland, said the plan to build 1000 new houses in St
Andrews, where she lives, would do "enormous damage" to the town's historic
"There is no sign that the current economic situation, or
the huge number of objectors, have had any impact on the apparent intent of
Fife Council and the Scottish Executive to cover Fife's landscape in
Over 2500 objections have been lodged against the council's
structure plan, with a further 200 submitted since the plan was modified by the
Scottish Government in December.
But the plan was defended by the chairman of Fife's
planning committee, councillor John Beare. "It is fundamental that we can
provide good quality, affordable housing," he told the Sunday Herald. "The
strategy and proposals contained within the plan, together with existing
assets, will make Fife a location of first choice in east central Scotland."
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Ministers are
currently considering objections to the proposed modifications to the plan.
"However, at no point will this mean that ministers have
given consent for any specific housing developments. Any new development
proposals would still have to be determined through the normal planning
process." more Community
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