Communities have ‘lost trust’ in the planning process

Lesley Laird is calling on councillors to take a “bold step to restore confidence in local democracy” when they decide on controversial housing plans this week.

Two large scale developments are due to come before West Planning Committee on Wednesday – an 85-house application by Cala Homes on a field south of Main Street,  recommended for approval by planning officers.

A Campion development for 80 houses at the other, westerly, end of Aberdour near Nether Bouprie Farm has been recommended for refusal.

Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said residents in Aberdour had consistently turned out in large numbers, and actively engaged in planning processes, to lodge their objections.

She added: “The reality in this case is even when a planning application is formally ruled out by the Scottish Government Reporter – as these two applications had been – it simply becomes a war of attrition.

“When developers don’t take no for an answer and come back time and time again it really highlights why the current planning system is long overdue for reform.”

Lesley continued:  “The developers argue that the current approved SESplan shows a “6000 house shortfall” in Fife but, everyone knows that’s not the case as it’s based on old data.

“The new plan, not yet approved, will reflect a more realistic number.  However, this loop hole leaves communities, like Aberdour, wide open to exploitative development and undermines the democratic process that the community had so actively participated in.

“No wonder communities have lost trust and confidence in the planning process. There is no balance in the planning system when developers can simply dig in for the long haul and get what they want.

“The proposed new planning reform Bill is an opportunity to fix this type of loop hole.  That’s why Scottish Labour has called for an amendment to the proposed Bill to ensure that communities are given a fair voice in the planning process and a right of appeal.

“Unfortunately, for Aberdour, it’s likely to come too late. I would therefore urge the West Planning Committee to look very carefully at these developments and take the bold step to restore some confidence in local democracy for the community.”

Pic: Lesley Laird with Easter Aberdour Residents Group