REPEATED objections and appeals have delayed the opening of a new pharmacy in Townhill by two years.

Mohammed Ameen was given the go-ahead for the business in September 2018, with premises at Loch Street, but rival chemists in Dunfermline did not welcome the competition.

He told the Press: "There have been three appeals that have really set us back by a couple of years.

"That was a shame as the hearing operated by the health board was very robust and they had a legal person who, while not chairing it, oversaw proceedings from a legal perspective to make sure the decision was robust.

"It seems as if some existing contractors were not happy with the board's final decision and it just meant that, for each appeal, we had to wait four-to-six months for the Scottish National Appeals Panel to rule on it.

"They had to go through the objections very closely as some of these were quite severe. I'm hoping that's behind us now."

Chair of Townhill Community Council, Ronnie Cowan, said: "It's taken years to win the battle to get a chemist in Townhill and it's still not open yet.

"Mo is a nice guy and he's keen to go ahead but it's been held up and we're not sure what's going on.

"NHS Fife said we definitely need a pharmacy in Townhill and the COVID situation has certainly shown we could do with one here.

"It's going to be near the Northern Link Road, which will run through small villages like Wellwood and Kingseat, so it could serve them too."

Mr Ameen submitted an application to NHS Fife to provide general pharmaceutical services from 2 Loch Street and it was discussed at a hearing in September 2018.

His submission to the pharmacy practices committee said the business would give the 1,300 local residents who stay in Townhill easier access to a pharmacy and also improve prescription waiting times.

Despite strong opposition and a grilling from representatives of other pharmacies in Dunfermline, who argued a new pharmacy was not needed and could harm their own businesses, the committee granted his application.

They decided that "existing services were inadequate" and that public transport, to access pharmacies in Dunfermline, was "inconvenient and expensive".

It said a new business in Townhill would have "little effect on existing pharmacies" and noted there had been an "extraordinary response" to the public consultation, with strong support in Townhill for the application.

Three unsuccessful appeals have followed and a spokesperson for NHS Fife told the Press this week that Mr Ameen had received "final approval" and added: "It is with the contractor now as to how quickly it opens."

Mr Ameen, who will leave his current business in Ayrshire to focus on the Townhill pharmacy full-time, said: "It's been a very rigorous process that's taken almost four years.

"There was about two years' worth of prep with myself and the community and the community council, and Ronnie Cowan was integral as he helped me gauge the level of interest and demand in the village.

"And it was two years waiting for the objections from existing pharmacies to be dealt with.

"It's all going through now; we're just waiting for the lockdown to ease and some admin issues to fall into place.

"We'll then look at how best to go about opening as soon as possible."