Statement by  R P Tooze

My understanding is that the Pre-determination meeting intends to make recommendations on the basis of planning issues. I feel that the document submitted as item 3 of the meeting sets out the planning issues that have blighted this proposal from the outset and have not been remedied through the ongoing process. Time precludes going through these in detail but I would mention transport, flooding, visual impact, excessive cost, development outside settlement boundaries and development in the greenbelt and significantly contrary to the Council’s own Adopted Local Plan as very pertinent.
Planning regulations are intended to protect both people and the environment from the excesses of individuals and businesses. Quoting from a Scottish Government publication 'A Guide to the Planning System in Scotland'
“The planning system balances competing demands to make sure that land is used and developed in the public’s long-term interest.”

This protection takes a long term view; mistakes made today will have an impact for many generations to come. As such these regulations cannot be optional and there cannot be a “pick and mix” approach according to prevailing pressures at play at any given time.

My understanding is that the siting of a development in a greenbelt may be possible in order to meet an established need if no alternative site is available. I would further assume that the Council (as applicant) have to prove this case; I draw the Councillors attention therefore to the following memo from the Corporate Asset Manager of Fife Council, to the then Council Leader concerning the Pipeland site (dated September 2012):

TO: Cllr Alex Rowley, Council Leader
FROM: Alan Paul, Corporate Asset Manager
DATE: 28 September 2012
TOPIC: This briefing note is intended to supplement the information provided on site options for the replacement of Madras College, dated 28 September 2012. This briefing note provides advice on the value of the Pipeland option, which it is understood has emerged as the Administration’s preferred location for the new school.
2. Land Purchase
The traditional route for the Council to secure a site for major infrastructure such as a large scale secondary school would be to promote a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). However the legal advice is that, because the Council already owns a viable alternative option for the location of the school which has planning consent for educational purposes (albeit one which is not supported politically by the current Administration) if the Council made a CPO and objections were received as is likely the Council would lose any enquiry to consider such objections.

In light of this I cannot see how this development can proceed and I urge Councillors to work with haste to deliver a truly viable site for a much needed new school.