TAYLOR WIMPEY have agreed to fund a £10 million primary school as part of the deal for 1,400 new homes between Halbeath and Kingseat.

They’ll also stump up millions more to pay for transport improvements as a massive development on farmland in the north-east of Dunfermline will pile more pressure on the road network.

Councillors approved the planning application yesterday at the west planning committee with Fife Council officers recommending approval despite 153 objections.

A report to the committee concluded: “This proposal would see a significant change to the existing environment which would be notable for a large number of years, however, it is considered that the development would have no significant impact either individually or cumulatively and would in the long term integrate well with the existing surrounding development without detriment.”

Taylor Wimpey submitted plans in May 2017 to build 1,400 new homes, a primary school and access roads with land set aside for retail, employment and community facilities.

Bellyeoman and Kingseat community councils, the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Halbeath Environmental Improvement Group, the owners of the Hideaway restaurant and North Dunfermline Community Group (NDCG) were among the 153 objectors.

Concerns included the loss of greenbelt land, daylight and countryside views, impact on wildlife, coalescence of communities, the scale of the development and “dramatic” increase in population, impact on schools, flood risk, increase in traffic and road safety issues, the Northern Link Road (NLR), bus services, noise, loss of amenity, effect on property values and the Hideaway, and the demolition of a Victorian farm steading and former railway bridge.

Currently agricultural land – it was previously mined extensively for coal – the site is around 80 hectares in size and lies to the north of Asda Halbeath and south of Kingseat.

Taylor Wimpey will build 13 ‘residential pods’ and pay more than £10m for a new 11-class primary school, to be built in two phases.

The site is within the catchment of Woodmill, Queen Anne and St Columba’s high schools, and Townhill, Carnegie and St Margaret’s primary schools.

There is already a “capacity risk” at Dunfermline’s four high schools and the developer will pay £6,067 per market unit – a quarter of the units will be affordable homes – for a “secondary school solution within Dunfermline”.

The bill includes £228 per market unit for St Margaret’s, to help fund a £1m extension with two additional classrooms, and four temporary cabins at Townhill to provide extra capacity until the new school is built.

Carnegie is already full and there is no room for any further alterations.

Plans to cope with the increase in traffic include: Re-routing Whitefield Road; Another change at its “unusual” junction with Kingseat Road; Part of the road becoming a cycle way/footpath; A stretch of Halbeath Road being increased to four lanes; Vehicles waiting longer at traffic lights; and upgrading Pleasance Road.

As the Press told you last week, approval will also lead to the closure of the level crossing on Kingseat Road.

Instead, the £14m-plus NLR, designed to serve new housing estates at Halbeath and Wellwood and to take traffic away from the town centre, will include a road bridge over the Fife Circle railway line.

The housebuilding firm will have to provide the NLR within their site as part of the development and pay £5,332 per market unit for transport improvements in the area, which “would largely be for the bridge over the railway but not exclusively”.

Pauline Mills, land and planning director for Taylor Wimpey East Scotland, said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured a resolution to grant planning permission in principle for our mixed-use development for the land to the north of Halbeath, which will consist of around 1,400 new homes with a community core, and forms part of the North Dunfermline Strategic Development Area (SDA).

“This decision is the culmination of almost 20 months work and represents a significant milestone in building this new community in West Fife.

"We will continue to work with Fife Council and the local community as we progress towards making a detailed application for the first phase of new homes later this year.

"It is our intention that this will be at the western edge of the site at Whitefield Road and will consist of around 340 new homes, including 25 per cent affordable properties.

“With many months of work ahead to secure the detailed planning and technical consents that are needed for a development of this scale, we anticipate that it will be around another two years before the first new homes will be released for sale at this development.”

As well as the legal agreement for the school and transport improvements, there are 52 planning conditions covering everything from noise, drainage, air quality and transport improvements to biodiversity, public art, tree-planting and a coal-mining risk assessment.

The council report stated: “In principle, there has been no significant impact identified in terms of flood risk or former mine workings.

“There would be no significant impact in terms of ecology, air quality, drainage, built heritage, flood risk or residential amenity, although these matters would also be subject of detailed applications.

“The site can provide sufficient infrastructure in terms of schools, roads and land for health care.”

It added: “The development would see the re-routing of Whitefield Road, the B912 and delivery of part of the NLR which are all considered acceptable.”