A DECISION by Fife Council to refuse permission for 92 new homes next to Townhill Country Park is set to be overturned on appeal.

Councillors on the west planning committee voted 6-2 in July to reject MacTaggart and Mickel's proposals to develop an area of land north of Kent Street in Dunfermline.

However, the Glasgow-based company appealed to the Scottish Government and a notice of intention issued by Scottish reporter David Liddell said he was "minded" to allow the appeal and grant planning permission.

Officers had recommended approval but councillors felt the proposals would result in overdevelopment and that green space and garden ground would be "sparse", while Townhill Community Council were worried about a lack of school capacity, the traffic-calming measures and access for houses fronting onto Townhill Road.

Mr Liddell said: "On balance, I do not find that the proposal would be overdevelopment of the site."

He added that "despite the relatively small gardens of many of the proposed houses, I do not consider that the amount and distribution of garden ground and open space would cause significant adverse effects on the amenity of occupants of existing housing or of those of the proposed development."

The four-hectare site between Kent Street and Townhill Road is an area of farmland between Dunfermline and Townhill, and borders the entrance to the country park and national waterski centre.

There is a pylon within the site and overhead lines running through it.

The site is allocated for housing in FIFEplan, the council's local development plan which states what can be built and where, with an estimated capacity of 80 units.

Mr Liddell said he was "not bound" by the recommendations of his fellow reporters who examined FIFEplan before it was approved.

Their report had recommended no housing fronting onto Townhill Road and that the capacity of the site should come down from 120 to 80.

He said he "can understand why the community council (and previously FIFEplan reporters) is opposed to housing fronting Townhill Road" as it is a "relatively fast road, despite the 30mph speed limit".

However, he said that the "active street frontages at this point would, in my view, likely assist the council's aims of reducing vehicle speeds on this stretch of road".

The proposals could be approved within 12 weeks if the council and developer can agree on planning obligations, including MacTaggart & Mickel paying around £850,000 in transport and education contributions.

It's a similar story to what happened in Crossford, with Stewart Milne Homes submitting an appeal to the Scottish Government after Fife Council refused their plans to build 200 homes to the west of the village.

The reporter in that case also issued a notice of intention, saying he was minded to allow the appeal and grant permission, although it was another nine months before this was confirmed just before Christmas.

MacTaggart & Mickel also want the council to pay its expenses as it "does not consider the council to have acted reasonably" and that "the reason for refusal is not a proper and reasonable planning reason".

Mr Liddell said he would issue a decision on that claim when the appeal was determined.

He also acknowledged the community council's "dissatisfaction with the manner in which the pre-application consultation procedures were conducted" but said there was "no evidence" to suggest any rules were broken.