CROSSFORD Community Council is "bitterly disappointed" as plans to build 200 new homes in the village are expected to be approved.

The Stewart Milne Group appealed to the Scottish Government last year after Fife Council rejected their proposal to build on land south of Pitconnochie Farm in September.

Villagers feared Crossford would merge to the west with neighbouring Cairneyhill if the development was approved, with the last application being met with 139 letters of objection before it was rejected by the west planning committee.

Others highlighted the impact on capacity at Crossford Primary School, flooding risks, increase in traffic, road safety, loss of green space and the land not being allocated for housing in the local development plan.

However, planning permission in principle is now likely to be granted by a government reporter.

Joyce Matson, chair of the community council, said: "We're bitterly disappointed.

"We don't think it should happen and we've been fighting against this for years.

"It will greatly reduce the space between Crossford and Cairneyhill.

"We're very disappointed that planning permission is now going to be given."

The reporter assigned to the proposal, Rob Huntley, gave his notice of intention – subject to conditions – last week.

He said: "Notwithstanding that FIFEplan policies 7 and 8 seek generally to resist development in countryside areas, bearing in mind the proposed development would contribute to the alleviation of a significant shortfall in the housing land supply required by approved and adopted policy, I conclude that the appeal proposal accords overall with the provisions of the development plan.

"The appeal proposal would contribute to sustainable development as sought by Scottish planning policy.

"The granting of planning permission is therefore appropriate subject to conditions and following the putting in place of a planning obligation restricting or regulating the development or use of the land in order to: a) secure the provision of affordable housing as part of the development; b) ensure that appropriate financial contributions are made towards the enhancement of local education provision; and c) secure the implementation of highway- and transportation-related improvements related to and made necessary by the development."

Councillor Dave Dempsey, Conservative group leader, says residents have been let down.

He said: “Last Autumn, Fife Council’s west planning committee turned down an application for housing to the west of Crossford. The developer took this to appeal and the reporter appointed by the Scottish ministers has now decided to grant that appeal, largely on the back of the SESplan numbers.

"That would make sense, except a new version, SESplan2, has been produced, with a much lower figure for the number of houses required. The councillors’ decision took account of that. SESplan2 is the up-to-date document. However, it’s been sitting in a Holyrood minister’s in-tray since last October, so the reporter is free to use out-of-date numbers on the grounds that ‘Ministers may approve SESplan2, with or without modifications, or may reject it’.

“The minister can accept or reject SESplan2. He (it is a he) has that power. Once he makes his mind up, we’ll know where we stand. If he accepts the new figures, the residents of Crossford will know that the housing they rejected went through on the basis of out-of-date data because a Holyrood minister sat on a report. They deserve better.”