At the meeting of the City of Dunfermline Area Committee on 28 April, the decision to reject the application by 7 votes to 1 was reported in both the Courier and the Dunfermline Press: the articles are available at the links.
The official note on the decision by the committee gave two reasons for refusal:
The development is contrary to Policy BE3 of the adopted Dunfermline and the Coast Local Plan in that it fails to make a contribution to the immediate environment by virtue of its scale and massing, which is out of keeping with the surrounding area.
The development would place additional pressure on the existing primary school catchment area which is operating at capacity and cannot be expanded to meet the additional demand.
We heard (Fife Council letter of 5 August) that the developers had appealed against the Planning Committee’s decision. Everyone who lodged an objection should have received a letter, and originally had only until 19 August to reinforce their objection to the plan, by writing to the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit at Falkirk, there being no email or web option. That date was later extended to 26 August at our request.
One of the difficulties with the planning system is that, as soon as an application is decided, most of the material is removed from the web site. To help objectors reach a judgement on this case, we supplied at this link as full a set as is available of the documents relating to the plan and the objections. This included a key new document, the “statement of case” by the developers, which set out the grounds for the appeal.
Many of our objector group lodged individual restatements of their objection, and a professional group response was also tabled. We were really pleased to read the robust way in which Fife Council supported the decision of their councillors in their own submission to the Reporter.
After the documents had been assembled, the Inquiry Reporters Unit at Falkirk advised that Malcolm Mahoney has been appointed the Inquiry Reporter and gave arrangements for his visit, which duly took place on Thursday 16 October.
The grounds for his dismissing the appeal are given in the decision letter which is available in full at this link. Key comments supporting our views were:
3. … the proposal would introduce a much larger building which would extend some 43m across almost the entire frontage with Townhill Rd. Its footprint, together with the associated car parking would cover most of the plot, leaving minimal space for landscaping. It would be situated less than 3m from the back of footway. Its 3 storey height would be emphasised by the corner turrets and its elevated position at a crest on Townhill Rd. I am not persuaded that the design, including the use of crow step features and mock baronial towers, would fit comfortably in these surroundings. For all of these reasons, it would represent overdevelopment of the site, would appear over-dominant and out of character in this location, and would be contrary to policies BE2 and BE3 of the Dunfermline and the Coast Local Plan.
4. … There seems to be no overriding reason for designing a scheme which does not include at least the minimum standard of private garden ground, especially given the comparatively generous space standards around most houses in this area.
7. … it is not clear that the requirement within policy COU15 of the local plan for a developer to properly assess existing trees on the site and retain them if at all possible, has been fulfilled. I have seen no tree survey or indication of trees to be removed and retained.
8. … the density of the proposal is excessive in this locality and therefore out of character.
What happens next?The next stage of course will be for the developers to submit a fresh application for their “Plan B”, which will go through the same initial process of notification to neighbours and consideration of plans and objections by the City of Dunfermline Area Committee.
LEADING THE WAY
37 Townhill Road is not the only site on which developers are seeking to maximise their profit by high-density development. The folk in Park Avenue were faced with two developments within the garden of Comely Park House, one of which would have formed a four-storey eyesore on the North-East corner.
We were delighted when, at their meeting on 31 March, the Planning Committee decided against the application. The papers for that meeting and details of their discussion are available at this link: scroll down to the very bottom of that page, select the 31 March meeting and go to Item 16(e) in the list of papers.
Regretfully, the developers decided to appeal against this decision, naturally choosing the summer period to do this. This is what also happened to us! The site visit by the Inquiry Reporter duly took place on 10 September and the appeal has been dismissed, for the reasons given in this decision letter. Great news!