MORE THAN £700,000 will be provided for transport improvements after the controversial proposals for a new Lidl and Marks and Spencer Foodhall in Dunfermline were given the go-ahead.

Back in February, councillors on the west planning committee approved the plans for the extension of the Halbeath Retail Park even though Fife Council’s planning officers had recommended that they be refused.

At their meeting yesterday (Wednesday), held after the Press print deadline, members were asked to justify the decision which planners opposed because they said it would have a “significant detrimental impact” on the town centre.

They were asked to agree the wording of a detailed reason for the approval which stated that, although against the adopted Dunfermline and West Fife Local Plan, it was deemed the proposal would have a “positive material impact” as it would create at least 200 jobs, use vacant land and complete the retail park.

“The proposal is acceptable in terms of transportation, design and layout, natural heritage and drainage and flood risk,” added the statement. “Overall, the positive material considerations are considered to outweigh the development plan policy in this instance and the development is considered acceptable.”

Councillors were also asked to agree that the application should be approved with conditions which included the conclusion of a legal agreement to secure a contribution of £703,234.35 for strategic transport interventions.

The extension will be at the east end of the retail park with a new access road from the roundabout on Kingseat Road. It will include 303 new car-parking spaces, traffic safety measures and a new pedestrian crossing on Halbeath Road.

The proposals had attracted 11 letters of objection including one from Halbeath Residents and Tenants Association and two from Zurich Assurance, who own the Carnegie Retail Park.

Among the concerns were increased traffic congestion, air pollution, pedestrian safety and the impact on the town centre.