SIX months after giving a conditional 'Yes' to 125 new homes in Aberdour, it's possible the Scottish Government reporter will change his mind.

A final decision has still to be made on Anne Harvey's plans to develop the Hillside School site with a local MSP arguing that changes to planning policy mean "the goalposts have fundamentally changed".

Asked if the delay could be interpreted as a good sign for objectors, Iain Fleming, chair of Aberdour Community Council, said: "There's no way of knowing.

"Everyone is tired of waiting but, at the end of the day, it's his prerogative.

"He's obviously taking his time to consider the number of points that have been raised after the request for extra information and the change of planning policy."

The reporter issued a notice of intention in December, saying he was minded to overturn Fife Council's decision and grant planning permission, but changes to Scottish planning policy that same month opened a window of opportunity for those against the plans.

Further submissions were invited from school owner Anne Harvey, the community council, Fife Council and local politicians, with Annabelle Ewing MSP stating that the reporter "should withdraw the notice of intention to grant the appeal and now refuse the appeal".

Agents for Hillside have been pressing for a final decision and requested an update last month and asked "when the final decision is likely to be issued?"

Philip Neaves, of Felsham Planning and Development, said the required section 75 agreement with the council was signed in March and added: "Looking at the planning portal, there seems to now be no deadline for processing."

Asked by the Press for an update, a spokesperson for the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division said: "Further to the notice of intention issued in December, the reporter requested further written submissions.

"The reporter is now considering these submissions and is working on his decision notice."

The plans for Hillside were submitted in November 2018, were met by 352 objections and refused by Fife Council in February 2020 due to "inadequate information" on which to take a decision.

A previous application in 2017 attracted 461 objections and was refused on the same grounds.

An appeal to the Scottish Government was submitted in May 2020.

Hillside is a private school that accommodates around 35 boys aged between 10 and 18 who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

The applicant wants to build new homes to help fund the relocation of the school within the 134-acre site to provide a “high-quality educational campus”, with residential blocks for students, playing fields, multi-use sports pitches and educational/start-up business units.

The council said more houses in this area were not needed and the plans lacked information on key issues such as flooding, design, overdevelopment and impact on the landscape.

Mr Neaves argued that their figures were from a plan that was rejected by Scottish ministers and that previously-accepted figures, showing a housing shortfall, should be used instead.

Ms Ewing, the community council and Fife Council believe the planning policy changes, particularly in relation to housing land supply and sustainable development, have tilted the argument in their favour and the appeal should be dismissed.

The MSP added that "the reporter’s decision on notice of intention to grant the appeal, which was based on the erroneous consideration of a housing shortfall, surely cannot now stand".

Mr Neaves said: "In our view, it remains the case that this proposal should be judged as suitable and sustainable."

There is precedent as the reporter in the Hillside case, David Buylla, changed his mind previously after issuing a notice of intention during a planning appeal for a site in Ayrshire.

It also centred on arguments about housing supply, sustainable development and the development plan being deemed 'out of date'.

In echoes of the Hillside case, he received submissions from a community council and an MSP after the notice of intention, and asked for further comments. He later dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.