DEMOLITION of the former Inverkeithing Primary School to make way for new homes will not go ahead after councillors “regretfully” refused to issue a permit.

Site owner Andrail Ltd wanted to knock down the two buildings at the former school site after they were hit by fire in November 2018.

One of the buildings was delisted but the other, built in 1874, still maintains its protected status.

While councillors were positive about Andrail’s plan to create 28 affordable homes on the site, they expressed frustration with the firm’s approach.

Council planning officers said the firm was “not willing” to consider alternative proposals, such as modifying the listed building to incorporate housing.

Ultimately, councillors decided that the plans were not strong enough to merit approval.

Planning committee convener Alice McGarry said: “This has been on the go for a very long time and I have thought long and hard about this application.

“I am in favour of this site being developed but there is merit in what the planning officers have said.

“I do believe the case could have been made for demolition and I am disappointed that the applicants are apparently not prepared to further explore other options.

“I do regret the loss of 28 affordable houses and the chance to remediate a blighted area.”

She was backed by local councillor David Barratt, who praised Cllr McGarry’s “very eloquent” reasons for refusal.

He added: “I’m less happy with the prospect of the site continuing in its derelict state and can only hope now that alternative plans are brought forward, even if those plans are the same but with appropriate justification.”

Andrail had sought approval on the grounds that they had had little commercial interest in the older buildings and argued that an earlier approval of similar plans had set a precedent.

The Glasgow-based owner had been set to secure permission to demolish the school in 2018 on the condition that it carried out a bat survey. The permit lapsed after Andrail failed to submit the survey in time.

Planning officer Natasha Cockburn said heritage bosses remained opposed to anything happening to the 19th-century H-block construct.

“In this regard, Historic Environment Scotland have had it confirmed to them the significance of the remaining 1874 building as a listed building – and they’ve advised that the building should be retained,” she said.

“The applicant hasn’t justified the demolition of the listed building.”

Refusal of Andrail’s plans will not necessarily spell the end of redevelopment taking place on the Inverkeithing Primary site.

Co-housing charity the Vivarium Trust is working with the Inverkeithing Trust on what it calls 'The Phoenix Project', which seeks to retain the building as a new housing scheme for the over-50s.