Back in June, the 8th to be precise, the Lomond Group contacted the Lochgelly Community Council concerning the building proposal for the Avenue.
A map was provided to the community council defining the area to be developed, but lacked the detailed plans of what would actually be developed. A copy of the map that the Community Council received is below.
Both the plans and the letter failed to mention a planning application reference number, which is key if you want to find anything on the Fife Council planning website, or if you would like to make a comment or objection.
We have been trying to find the application online and failed to do so, then we heard a rumour, that the planning application has already been approved in principal by the Scottish Reporter. As soon as we heard this, we knew that there is detailed plans available for the development, but still we were not able to find them as we lacked a planning application reference number, which was not provided by Lomond Homes Ltd.
We did happen to stumble across the public consultation held by Lomond Homes Ltd at the Lochgelly Business Centre (which hasn’t been officially opened). Lomond Homes did contact the Community Council for suggestions for a suitable venue for the consultation as stated in their letter
I will make contact with you to be advised of the dates and times as well as the venue which you consider suitable.
However, they were advised to hold the consultation in a venue that is already established for community access, such as the Town Hall, or Miners Institute. Yet Lomond Homes decided to ignore the advice of the Community Council and held the consultation in a building that doesn’t appear to be open or very accessible or welcoming to the public.
On display was the usual drawings associated with the Charrette and a set of forward ideas, which gave the impression that nothing is set in concrete, and that ideas were still being explored for the development. A reliable witness has stated that the actual plan was on display but tucked away, outwith the main display area.
Upon hearing the rumour that the Scottish Reporter had approved the application in principal, we contacted Fife Council through a Freedom of Information Request to try and obtain the detailed plans.
However, because we lacked a planning application number (which hadn’t been provided to the Community Council), our request was delayed, but the helpful FOI Officer, managed to track down the information we requested, after we provided further clarification and references to the development.
The planning application number is: 11/03173/PAN and you can view the documentation on the planning.fife.gov.uk website. It is important to note that on the Fife Council website, it states:
It appears to be a done and dusted deal for Lomond
Homes The Avenues Ltd.
The detailed plans for the Avenue has been provided below:
The documents attached to the planning application never mentioned any Section 75 Agreement, so we will make another FOI request to see if there has been any Section 75 Agreement drawn up and details of the agreement. If there is an agreement in place, do not expect Lomond The Avenues Ltd to honour the agreement as Lomond Homes Ltd have still so far managed to avoid honouring their agreement for the New Farm Vales development.
For those that did attend the public consultation and leave their feedback to Lomond, please note that according to the Fife Council – Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) letter.
Basically, your comments will be listened to and ignored as they will not affect the planning application.
Today we spoke with a couple of representatives from the Community Council and they were unaware that the plans had all been progressed and that any consultation with the planning department had already taken place. Current appearances seem to indicate that Lomond
Homes the Avenues Ltd have bypassed some of their legal obligations to keep local groups such as the Community Council informed of all aspects of the planning proposals.
What doesn’t help the transparency issues, is the fact that the Director of Lomond Homes Ltd is Alan Seath, who was also the head of the Fife Council planning department. There is also unconfirmed reports that between 3-4 other employees of the Lomond Group were also former employees of Fife Councils Planning Department.
We did try to get confirmation of the Lomond Group employees that were previously Fife Council employees, by making a Freedom of Information request:
Please can you confirm (but not name) how many people that are employed (or serve on the board of Lomond) connected to Lomond Homes Ltd or Lomond the Avenues Ltd, previously worked for Fife Council planning department?
This question was skillfully deflected by Fife Council
Fife Council does not hold the information you want. When a member of staff leaves the service, we do not keep a record of where they are going to take up employment.
We do realise that there will be people in Fife Council that know the name of the Lomond Group employees that were previously Fife Council employees, so if anyone in Fife Council would like to confirm who these employees are, please send us an anonymous email to firstname.lastname@example.org through Anonymouse.org.
Likewise if anyone has information on Lomond Homes, whether confirmed or rumours, please let us know as we will investigate all data received to try and build a better picture of Lomond Homes and their current practices.
Freedom of Information
We will be following up this article with several more Freedom of Information requests. Mainly to find out when the Planning Authority held their planning consultation as it is currently closed for public consultation, and to obtain a report from Lomond Homes that they must complete under the PAN agreement.
If anyone wants us to request additional data about Lomond Homes, please tell us in the comments below or via email and we will include them in our FOI request.