The Lochgelly Charrette is getting closer and Fife Council is promoting it as a chance to “Have your say about the development of Lochgelly” but after receiving the Lochgelly Charrette brochure and reading over the wording, is it really our chance to have our say, or is it another exercise that ticks all the right boxes for the local authority.
Supermarket & Petrol Station
For instance we have received much response in support of a supermarket with petrol station on this site, and the Lochgelly Community Regeneration Forum have been issuing questionnaires on this issue, which I am led to believe has received over 300 positive replies in support of the proposed Supermarket & Petrol Station. So it was with great surprise to see that the Weathermac site has been zoned for Housing on page 2 of the Lochgelly Charrette brochure “Housing/with supporting mixed uses and green space“. We will continue to support the supermarket and petrol station plan because it is much needed but it does look like Fife Council have made their mind up already.
There is 1,750 new houses planned for the Lochgelly area. Most of the development looks set to be developed at South Street and Westwatters Crescent. The fields at the edges of these streets have been zoned for housing and will also cover the football pitch at Lochgelly Albert. The Weathermac site all the way down to the railway line is also zoned for housing, we have housing zoned near Lochgelly Golf Course and the Lochgelly Plots. Land next to the playing fields at Lochgelly High School is zoned for housing.
Anyone that has been following the building plans for Lochgelly will notice that this plan is at least 5 years old, and a quick visit to Lochgelly Community Forum at the Regeneration Office in Bank Street, will confirm this, as they have the same map on their wall, which has been there for years.
We have already had 2 pieces of public art in Lochgelly (Gateway to Lochgelly and the Miners Statue) which cost a vast amount of money and didn’t meet the approval of Lochgelly people, but in their determination Fife Council are promising us another piece of Public Art, this time to be located at the bottom of the avenue. Does Lochgelly need another piece of Public Art, especially since Fife Council are proposing to cut back spending on music resources and education by 50% throughout Fife.
To spend thousands of pounds of tax payers money on a statue or any other form of public art is a slap in the face for residents when their town is in shortage of decent community facilities.
The Charrette Programme
The brochure goes on to say “The Charrette will feature numerous opportunities for the public to get involved and have their say about the nature of future development of Lochgelly” yet the very first meeting is for developers and landowner (although the public can attend, I do not think you will be allowed to give much input though). The design process is apparently an opportunity for members of the public to work directly with the design team to help shape future development in and around the town, whilst working from previously established development policies.
- Local Planning Authorities: The local Planning Authority will have a leading role within the Charrette.
- Landowners and Developers: The site owners and developers will act as key participants throughout the process.
- Citizen, Community Groups and Local Businesses: The public are encouraged to participate in the Charrette (note: we are encouraged to participate, if it was a community led opportunity, surely this should be worded as “CONTRIBUTE”).
Come Along and Have Your Say
Members of the design team will encourage public feedback and will work with the public to finesse the proposals
Or to reword it differently, members of the design team will encourage the public to tick boxes on behalf of Fife Council on already set plans which have never been consulted with the public in the first place, that way if anyone kicks up a fuss, Fife Council can show everyone they followed procedure.
Anyone wanting further information about the Lochgelly Charrette can visit Fife Councils official site: www.scotlandcharrettelochgelly.co.uk, or can download the PDF Brochure: Lochgelly Charrette Paper (PDF).
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