Plans for a closed loop cycle track within Glencraig proposed by councilor Mark Hood and Fife Council has faced strong opposition from residents and SEPA for lack of a robust planning application.
SEPA have formally objected to the planning application:
We object to the proposed development on the grounds that it may place buildings and persons at flood risk contrary to Scottish Planning Polic. We also object to this application due to lack of information in relation to impacts on the water environment.
The stance taken by SEPA is further supported by the Fife Council Department ‘Harbours, Flood and Coast’ who warn:
We can therefore conclude that insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that the proposals meet the requirements of Fife Council in terms of flood risk, and further clarification is required.
Meanwhile, residents from Glencraig have objected citing various material planning considerations including the suitability of the site for the proposed development, loss of privacy to existing housing, road safety, nuisance caused by noise, glare from track lighting and glare from headlights of vehicles using facility, and the density and layout of proposal.
Fife Council Environmental Health (Public Protection) has aired several concerns which support the objections being made by residents, including seeking further clarification over traffic noise and floodlighting.
One aspect of the planning application which Fife Council and councillor Hood has been keen to highlight is the business case for supporting the economy in the Lochgelly area, with Hood publicly saying:
“We also see this new facility having a positive impact on the local economy as more visitors visit the area and spend time here”
Fife Council also laud the business case for the local economy claiming in their leaflets:
“Users of the facility would bring with them a desire to purchase from local shops and businesses”
Both statements from Hood and Fife Council are not evidence backed, and no supporting data has been provided to support the claims being made.
Residents have challenged the claims:
“It was stated by those with a vested interest in this planning application that the area would benefit from the number of visitors from outwith Fife. However, after an exhaustive search find no evidence to back up that statement. Again, in such a deprived area where local businesses and shops are continually closing, it can hardly be justified that the formation of a £1m cycle track would give any kind of hope, encouragement or incentive, to any failing local business, to remain open because of the possibility that cyclists would shop before or after visiting the cycle track”
The weak business case presented by councillor Hood and Fife Council has been further weakened by Hood posting on his Facebook page, crude plans for a set of two roads to be constructed that would connect directly to the proposed cycle track, from the bypasses at Kelty and Lochgelly, effectively circumnavigating local towns.
This proposed road would create a significant los to green space in the local areas and reduce the incentive for cyclists to come within the town and spend their cash. Cyclists can enter and leave via the bypasses without stepping one foot into local businesses.
The planning application will need to be presented to the Cowdenbeath Area Committee but with the committee firmly controlled by Labour, will resident concerns be given a fair hearing?