THE firm that promised thousands of jobs at Rosyth Waterfront have blamed Fife Council’s “perverse logic” for sinking their ambitious plans.
Scarborough Muir Group’s £500 million proposal promised a dynamic quayside with a parade of shops, supermarket, hotel, cafés, bars, offices, a leisure centre and new homes.
However, the new FIFEplan, which sets out what can be built and where, said the land should be kept for employment / port use only – effectively ruling out their mixed use plans.
And a statement from the firm said: “It has been suggested that this decision was made by the Scottish Government. This is incorrect.
“The decision to restrict development was made by Fife Council’s planning department who ignored the representations made by the local community, local councillors and landowners and produced their ‘vision’ for Rosyth.”
It said the decision was merely rubber-stamped by the government and added: “Fife Council, in identifying the waterfront site as being suitable for port and port-related uses, only showed no consideration has been given to the financial viability of such a proposal.”
Scarborough Muir said when they bought the site, part of the former naval base and oil fuel depot in 1998, the land use was designated as mixed use.
Since then they have "undertaken one of the largest remediation and demolition projects in Scotland" to bring the site back to life, which has so far cost more than £16m.
The mixed use designation led them to develop a masterplan "which would support the port, provide community access to the waterfront, provide much needed new facilities for Rosyth, generate 5,000 jobs and provide a real gateway to West Fife and east Scotland".
The firm's statement said: "With the Forth Bridge achieving UNESCO World Heritage status and completion of the Queensferry Crossing, together with the remediation works, 2017 should have been the catalyst for the re-birth of Rosyth.
"Unfortunately, in 2016, Fife Council decided that they would ignore the wishes and desires of the landowners, community and local councillors and remove the mixed use allocation."
The firm said councillors on the South West Fife area committee "gave a clear message that the site should retain its mixed use allocation".
Deputy leader of Fife Council, Lesley Laird, had told the Press recently that the land use designation did not stop anyone coming forward with a planning application that "would be considered on its own merit".
But the fact that FIFEplan states it should be used for employment / port use only means it would be much more difficult to gain approval for a mixed-use development.
Scarborough Muir said that a mixed use allocation would give the South West Fife area "an opportunity to secure new and long term economic growth from the tourist industry which a new glittering waterfront development would have supported".
It added: "Councillor Laird, who recently suggested 'never say never' and that a planning application could be lodged, did not support this view.
"At the following Fife Council Executive Committee meeting, the position of the South West Fife area committee was re-stated that they did not want the waterfront to be shackled, only to be ignored again by the officers tasked with completing the local development plan process, who decided to press on with their version of the masterplan for Rosyth Waterfront.
"To be clear the approved local development plan (FIFEplan) is the plan that Councillor Laird and Fife Council wanted to see for Rosyth, contrary to the wishes of the local community and local councillors."
And the statement continued: "To support their proposals for their preferred plan, Fife Council used Scottish Enterprise (who have no standing on the site) to assist and commenced the preparation of a masterplan even before the new local development plan was approved.
"The brief for the masterplan is unknown, how it was procured is unknown, normal council procedures appear not to have been followed and the local community have not been consulted.
"Scarborough Muir met with Fife Council prior to Christmas and clearly set out all the issues arising from Fife Council’s vision for Rosyth.
"Fife Council were asked for their thoughts on how the site could possibly be developed due to the unviable nature of its contents, and to date there still has been no response.
"Scarborough Muir remain committed to developing Rosyth and are drawing up plans for small advance industrial units to be built however are very aware that the council now seek business rates on any empty industrial properties, hence the mass demolition of much of Fife’s old industrial stock.
"Scarborough Muir refuse to let the waterfront vision fail and will take all steps necessary to overcome the perverse logic of Fife Council’s planning department and their disregard of community desires and the efforts of local companies.
"It should be noted that the lack of support for Rosyth Waterfront is at odds with the rest of Scotland where councils like Dundee are working hard to replace the old industries and support new investment on brownfield sites."