125-home development on Aberdour school site approved on appeal

A proposed housing development in Aberdour is set to go ahead after permission was granted by a Scottish Government reporter.

Fife Council had initially rejected plans by Hillside School for 125 homes to be built on its site in May 2020.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) added its name to a list of almost 200 objectors to the plans back in 2017 warning that some of the properties could be at risk of flooding.

In December, a reporter from the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) said the development was set to be approved at appeal, but planning policy changes saw the Scottish Government invite further submissions from school owner Anne Harvey, Aberdour Community Council and local MSPs.

Scottish Government reporter David Buylla has now given the school planning approval in principle – with detailed proposals now expected to come before the council later this year.

Outlining the reasons behind his decision, Mr Buylla’s report stated:

  • Existing plans: Part of the site is already allocated for about 70 homes;
  • Economic boost: The development “would deliver an economic benefit through construction activity, improved school facilities and new business units” – even though it could be at the expense of such work taking place elsewhere;
  • Local links: The site “has the potential to deliver a distinctive, safe and pleasant” development that links well to existing foot and cycle routes;
  • Size: The scale of the development is “not out of keeping” with local expectations given “the range of local shops, cafés, a primary school, train station, bus stops, a post office and library that are found within Aberdour”;
  • Proximity: It is close enough to Aberdour “to encourage sustainable and healthier lifestyles”.

The developer will have to stick to 30 planning conditions. Among them is a requirement to submit details of drainage infrastructure to address flooding concerns. A plan for roads, access, footpaths and cycle paths will have to be brought forward – and details on the construction of affordable homes on 25% of the site.

The school’s owners want to use the profits from the sale of the homes to build a new facility.

They say it would replace the existing 200-year-old Hillside House and accommodation dating back to the ’70s and ’80s, both of which are deemed no longer fit for purpose.

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