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Court case warning to council
Gordon Berry, The Courier, 1 September 2009
Fife Councillors have been warned that a successful Court
of Session challenge to the Fife Structure Plan would directly impact on
The issue has been raised in a briefing note to councillors
since the action raised by St Andrews resident Penny Uprichard.
Miss Uprichard has already secured over £30,000 in
pledges to help with possible legal costs, and if successful her challenge to
the decision of Scottish ministers to approve the plan could result in the
whole document being sent back to the council.
Though Miss Uprichards action relates mainly to St
Andrews housing numbers, it nevertheless challenges the ministers on the entire
plan. The plan attracted an unprecedented number of objections, and strong
opposition from neighbouring local authorities such as Dundee City Council.
The Courier has obtained a copy of the briefing note, in
which planner Dave Wardrope states that the challenge has been made under the
Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
It is claimed in the legal papers that Scottish ministers
have failed to give a proper, adequate and intelligible reason for not
modifying the finalised structure plan in line with specific objections
Mr Wardrope said that in essence the appeal is based on
case law, which requires ministers to provide reasons for not modifying the
finalised structure plan.
It is being argued on Miss Uprichards behalf
that the reasons should be intelligible and deal with any substantial points
that have been raised.
Miss Uprichards solicitor argues that the
Scottish ministers explanation in rejecting her objection does not answer
the clear and reasoned points of objection put forward in her letter of
objection, he said.
The official also said that Miss Uprichard had sought an
interim suspension of the Fife Structure Plan.
There are, of course, resource implications
associated with the legal challenge in terms of officer time and costs
associated with the necessary legal representation for the council. Should the
challenge to the structure plan be successful, there would also be direct
It is essential that the council has up to date local
plans in place upon which planning decisions can be based.
Along with the draft Kirkcaldy and Mid Fife and
Dunfermline and West Fife local plans, the St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan
has been timetabled to follow the approval of the Fife Structure Plan to ensure
that Fife maintains up-to-date development plan coverage for the
The official said that as a result of this legal challenge
to the Scottish Ministers approval of the finalised Fife Structure Plan,
the council must consider the potential for the challenge on parts of the
structure plan being successful and the extent of the impact of such a
challenge on the local plan process.
In view of the possible consequences to the council,
and the ongoing regeneration of Fifes communities and of a suspension
being granted, the council has sought legal advice and has entered appearance
in the appeal process, the note states.
It is unlikely that the appeal will be heard before
autumn 2010, with any subsequent decision being pronounced in early 2011,
said Mr Wardrope. more Community
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