Today, one of our volunteers attended the Cowdenbeath Area Committee to hear the Committee discuss the proposed small store at Hall Street (Planning application: 09/01361/WOPP) which has received numerous objections on this site (http://lochgelly.org.uk/?p=1115) as well as the official planning site: http://planning.fife.gov.uk/online/applicationComments.do?action=showComments&caseNo=09/01361/WOPP.

If this proposed small store goes ahead, Lochgelly and the surrounding areas will lose out on the opportunity of 180 jobs and a local petrol station, which is much needed, for the local area.

Also in attendance were representatives from our local Community Council, and the Lochgelly Community Regeneration Forum.

The Meeting

The meeting lasted a while and was still ongoing by the time our volunteer left (after the discussion of the planning application of the small store), who stayed for the 2 hours before this planning application was presented to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee. The Lochgelly Community Regeneration Forum stayed until the end of the meeting, and we will be contacting them soon for an update and to share their views on how the meeting went.

The Plan

When the plan was presented to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee, the issue was discussed, and councillors were advised to concentrate on the application and merits of the proposal, and not allow themselves to be swayed in a way that would suggest voting for the popularity vote, which I assume was meant to address the concerns of many people that have submitted objections to Fife Council, to the local Councillors, and this website. We believe they should be looking at the merits of the planning application as well as representing the views of the community.

Local SNP Councillor Ian Chisholm proposed that the planning application be rejected on the grounds of parking and transportation issues, and this was seconded by SNP Councillor Ann Bain. Local Labour Councillor Mark Hood proposed that the decision should be delayed until a site visit can be arranged and this was seconded by Labour Councillor, Alex Rowley.

Admin Edit on the 3rd March 2010 @ 21:48

We would like to add that Mark Hood did raise issues of concern about the suitability of the site as a retail unit, and his stance is for a site visit to ensure the application is considered correctly.

Details of why we have made this edit can be found in the comments below – Admin

A vote was then taken on both proposals, 2 voted in favour of rejecting the planning application (Cllr Ian Chisholm and Cllr Ann Bain) and 7 councillors voted to delay the decision until a site visit could be arranged. This gave 7 votes in favour of delaying any decision until a site visit has been arranged. The 7 councillors who voted to delay a decision were Cllr. John Simpson, Cllr. Alistair Bain, Cllr. Alex Rowley, Cllr. Alexander Maxwell, Cllr. Mark Hood, Cllr. Margot Doig, and Cllr. William L. Clarke.

As a side note, a previous planning application had been rejected, because the plans didn’t provide enough parking spaces (only 3 extra parking spaces were needed), yet this proposed store will have a shortfall of around 50 parking spaces.

Conclusions

So today, no final decision was made on the planning application, which is a partial victory for the people of Lochgelly but the fight is far from over. I am sure this issue will be raised at the next Community Council meeting, and if you wish to raise any questions on this subject (or anything else) to the Community Council, you can do so at: http://lochgelly.org.uk/?page_id=1150

We will contact the Lochgelly Community Regeneration Forum for their feedback and an update, as they have been very proactive on this issue as well as the other issues they raise in the community.

Also because of this delay for the final decision, it means there is still time to put in your official objections at: http://planning.fife.gov.uk/online/applicationComments.do?action=showComments&caseNo=09/01361/WOPP

As always, you can leave us your feedback below, and we would like to thank everyone that has shown us support and objected to the plans of the small store.

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9 Comments

  1. Mike Wallace

    March 3, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Keep fighting guys…Lochgelly is crying out for a petrol station. It would benefit us in Cardenden as well.

    Reply

  2. Mark Hood

    March 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I don’t think the article above gives a true reflection of the debate, and fails to reflect the key points of discussion. As I said in the committee today ‘I had grave concerns about the suitability of the site as a retail out let, but felt it was necessary that we hold a site visit to ensure we considered the application correctly.’
    I think its unfair to criticise councillors until the final decision has been made.
    I like what your doing with this website, but you need to be fair we can’t comment fully until the decision has been taken in full. Then you are more than welcome to criticise.

    Reply

  3. admin

    March 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Mark, thank you for adding your thoughts, I have just got off the phone to the volunteer who attended and he has confirmed that you did raise concerns over the suitability of the site as a retail outlet. We have updated the post to reflect this information, and have clearly marked this edit.

    Please note that it is our believe that the article is not criticising Councillors, merely stating which way they voted. The only bias we have is against the plan of the small store, because we feel it is detrimental to the local area, and brings little community benefits.

    I am led to believe that many issues were raised and not all issues can be accurately covered in the one post, just like newspapers will shorten articles for general release, that is why we give people the option to comment so they can leave us feedback, or add extra information to the debate, so we can gain further information which leads to a better understanding on any given subject.

    We use posts as a trigger for debate and hope the comments will be utilised to provide a fuller picture and better understanding of any subject matter discussed, as this helps build better social cohesion within our community.

    We also understand that Councillors cannot comment fully on this subject as noted by the 3 replies Terry received from his open letter to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee: http://lochgelly.org.uk/?p=1267

    We realise that the 7 councillors who delayed the vote could have easily voted to approve the plans, and then we would be critical of our councillors, however, this delay, is a partial victory for the Lochgelly community and we will wait until the final decision is made before we pass any criticism or praise.

    In the meantime we will continue to raise awareness of this issue on our site and through our networks. You are more than welcome to keep us informed via the comments, or alternatively, we can upgrade your account status to Contributer, so you can make your own posts to the front page and provide us with your views.

    This option is available for all members of the local community, as we are trying to promote better social cohesion within the community and want a wide range of opinions about Lochgelly and the issues affecting Lochgelly, whether negative or positive.

    Reply

  4. Mark Hood

    March 4, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Hi – I take your point. Its just important for people to understand that the planning process is still ongoing and a final decision is still to be taken and until then I can’t fully explain my position.
    If I can give an example, the committee rejected an application for Residential accomodation Cartmore Ind est. On appeal permission was granted by the scottish government. Its important that when we consider an application its done correctly and we are not opening the door for the decision to be overturned at some point in the future.

    Reply

  5. admin

    March 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for your update Mark, this helps give us a better understanding of the complexities involved, and we do agree that we do not want the door to be opened for the final decision to be overturned in the future.

    Reply

  6. A. Reid

    March 4, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    how does planning work?

    Reply

  7. admin

    March 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Hi A. Reid, welcome to the site. Are you asking about the process of a planning application?

    My understanding (and someone please correct me if wrong) is that a developer puts an application to Fife Council, they will then look at the application and see if there should be any restrictions, amendments or assessments that need to take place, once all criteria have been met, this is then displayed online to give people the opportunity to raise objections or support. The plans will also be sent to the community council who can raise objections or support.

    Once this has been carried out, the plans are presented to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee, with objections and support noted, to make a final decision on the plans (approve, reject or delay for further information).

    If rejected, the developer has the right to appeal, if the appeal is successful I am unsure if the Cowdenbeath Area Committee get to decide on the application again or if it goes to the Scottish Government to make a decision.

    This is my understanding, but I have probably made some mistakes. Either, myself or one of the volunteers will look at this more closely and try to give you a more definitive answer, but I hope this helps for now.

    Reply

  8. A. Reid

    March 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    OK thanks

    Reply

  9. eileen mc kenna

    March 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I have just witnessed the Cowdenbeath area committee councillors out on there inspection of the Fab-Tek site. I ASSUMED THIS SITE VISIT WOULD HAVE BEEN ONLY FOR THE COUNCILLORS. NOT for Fife Council Employees. Wrong again!

    We should be asking WHO IS LEADING THIS SHOPPING PROPOSAL??

    Reply

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