Housebuilder asks if Fife is open for business

2 November 2015
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Scottish House Builder of the Year, Springfield Properties, has registered their dissatisfaction with the planning service at Fife Council following its attitude to a planning application for Ridgeway, Dalgety Bay.

Springfield says it has been working with Fife planning officials to move the development, which proposes 56 new homes including 14 affordable homes and a commercial building, forward for over two and half years, but is getting nowhere. Today planning consent was refused with no discussion despite the fact there were jobs at stake.

Springfield Chairman Sandy Adam said:

“It was a predetermined meeting. We are ready to provide inward investment to build affordable and private homes and a purpose built commercial building. At the moment our investment is not welcome. We think Fife is closed to business.”

“The attitude of Fife Council flies in the face of Scottish Government policy. It’s about time they explained why it is blocking high quality jobs and affordable homes for Dalgety Bay.

“We are very dissatisfied with the whole process. The planning department have put barriers in our way from the start. The process has lacked continuity, with three different planners assigned to the case, and a tree preservation order being applied to the site half-way through the application.

“Initially planners criticised our urban design, so we withdrew our original application and submitted a new one based on planning officials’ feedback. Despite this they came to a decision to recommend refusal, saying loss of employment land would undermine Dalgety Bay as a sustainable mixed community.”

Mr Adam continued: “It is ironic that the Council’s shilly-shallying has led to the loss of leading Scottish technology company, Exterity, from the site, who had outgrown the existing building.

“The plans which have been refused include purpose built accommodation for Exterity and its growing workforce. This Scottish company provides high quality, skilled employment for 80 people. It has been forced to move from Ridgeway to alternate accommodation that will support their aim to double their workforce over the next five years.”

“Our experience shows the Council’s obsession with employment land is misplaced. We have had this site advertised for commercial use for five years and there has been very little demand. With a little vision this whole area could become home to hi-tech ‘clean’ employers, with homes for employees on the doorstep. Instead, over the last two and half years the site has become an eyesore.”

Exterity Director Simon Ross added:

“This decision is regrettable. Exterity believes strongly that the type of accommodation Springfield offered to build for us is in much demand and unless the Council enables the building of such accommodation, high tech business such as Exterity will need to look further afield to enable their businesses to grow.”

Springfield plan to refer the case to Scotland’s chief planner as a example of local authorities putting barriers in the way of development at the cost of jobs, new homes and economic growth. Mr Adam concluded: “We will be writing to Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil to highlight this case as part of the Scottish Government’s independent review of the Scottish planning system.”