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Major development proposal for housing in prime agricultural land west of Kingsbarns village square
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Protests prompt U-turn over housing numbers

Gordon Berry, The Courier, 7 September 2010

An East Neuk community council which had expressed concern over a housing development appears to have forced a last-minute U-turn by planning officials.

Proposals to increase the size of Kingsbams by 20%, on a greenfield prime agriculture site to the west of the village square, are now likely to be scaled back from 40 houses to 20 in the new local plan.

Yesterday, however, it was clear that the community council wants Fife Council to go even further and restrict development in the village to only organic growth on small brownfield sites.

News of the latest recommendation has come in a report to the Fife planning committee from head of development services Keith Winter.

It follows a community council claim of "hypocrisy" in the planning process, with local representations and opposition ignored by officials.

The community council was backed by councillors when the issue was raised during discussion of the finalised St Andrews and east Fife local plan at a recent north-east Fife area committee meeting.

Now Mr Winter has said that a reduction in house numbers would be appropriate in addressing concerns expressed at the committee.

The reduction, he said, would allow ample scope to promote a solution reflecting the existing open aspect from the village square and the rural setting.

Community council chairman Rob Moodie had said that there had been no explanation for the allocation of prime agricultural land for the expansion of the conservation village.

Also, he said, no justification had been given of housing need in the community, nor how the needs of the wider community would be met.

The community council had pointed out that about 30% of housing stock is already owned as holiday accommodation, and predicted that almost all houses built for sale will be purchased as second homes, contributing little to the community.

The development plans for the village came from adjacent Cambo Estate, where the landowner has lodged an objection to the local plan to enable 66 houses to be built.

The community council, however, said that a large development would dwarf the village and render any conservation status "irrelevant."

It has been made clear by Mr Winter that a development brief for the site would have to be prepared by the developer, with community engagement, for the approval of the council.

Mr Moodie, however, said that the community council still believes that no greenfield sites are required.

He said, "Housing needs in the village can be best met by small-scale development of brownfield sites, which currently can produce 10 house sites and, possibly within the plan period, land for a further 10 houses.

"Greenfield development is neither required nor desirable, given the prime quality agricultural land which surrounds the village and the value of the place as a conservation village."

Mr Moodie said that he hoped the planning committee would further amend its position when it meets today.

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