A NEW pier, facilities for water taxis and diving boats plus a new bistro are all part of ambitious plans to transform Prestonhill Quarry.

Developers DDR (UK) have tabled long-awaited plans after months of community consultation and many more years of complex landownership issues that have blocked plans for redevelopment in the past.

They're seeking permission to create a mixed-use development with approximately 180 residential units, holiday lodges, cafe/bistro, associated access, open space, landscaping, SUDS and other infrastructure at the site in Inverkeithing.

Affordable housing will comprise 25 per cent of the overall residential units, in collaboration with Kingdom Housing Association.

If given the green light, it would signal the removal of the deep water pond on the quarry floor which would be filled in and also the cliff face which would replaced with a more gradual slopped bank.

DDR are keen to make sure that the site carries many community benefits so part of the development would mean enhancing the Fife Coastal Path, which goes through the development, with a more attractive promenade.

Other plans include establishing viewing points and public seating, the reconstruction of the Beamer Lighthouse as a feature, a new landscaped wet pond for biodiversity in the middle of the site, new accessible paths for access to Letham Woods, and a fresh water fountain.

There would also be a new pier to provide access to water activities, providing a possible link to South Queensferry and Edinburgh.

Pre-application plans submitted by DDR have already been met with opposition.

As reported by the Press last month, a survey carried out jointly by Inverkeithing Trust and the town’s community council showed that respondents were not only opposed strongly to current proposals on the table but there was little appetite for filling in the quarry pool.

However, DDR believe that their proposals will address long-standing issues regarding public safety at the brownfield site.

There have been a number of deaths and serious incidents at the quarry and the developers have highlighted rife ant-social behaviour at the site.

The applicant is also arguing that there is a current shortfall in the effective housing land supply in Dunfermline and West Fife.

A planning statement reads: "Addressing the safety of the quarry has been a prominent concern amongst the community and Fife Council for a considerable time.

"Notwithstanding that the quarry is a well-used recreational area, there have been ongoing life-endangering and nuisance/anti-social behaviour incidents reported over many years.

"This has raised significant public safety concerns with the frequent involvement of emergency services, notably over the last year. These have been extensively reported in the national and local press, highlighting the public interest in these events and the severity of the issue.

"With this proposal, the applicant has legal means to enable the development of the site, alongside a financially-achievable mechanism assembled through private funding. Formal and clear ownership of the site will be gained, subsequently enabling the safety of the quarry through the proposed development."

In the past there was speculation that the project could include a diving centre but that was dismissed from plans late last year.

The planning statement added: "After detailed study, the applicant has concluded that the diving centre, as a standalone business, is not sustainable.

"The dilemma is therefore that the public have access to a potentially dangerous site, with no responsible landowner or the local authority able to maintain public safety measures. This situation will only continue unless responsibility for the safety of the quarry can be established.

"To progress with future development is the only way to potentially resolve the public safety concerns of the quarry."

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor David Barratt said: "I've always been happy to engage with the developer to get as much benefit for the community as possible.

"But, at the same time, the strategy of the developer is to fill in the quarry floor and that appears to not be what the community wants.

"So I'm not in favour of the development but I accept they have gone some way in addressing some suggestions, such as the cafe/bistro that is now included, that came from community consultation and making sure that there is space around the coastal path away from the housing.

"But the crucial part is that they can only make improvements so far, it doesn't change the fact they want to fill in the quarry.

"DDR argue that it resolves safety issues, it does, but it totally wipes it out too. It's perhaps like taking a sledgehammer to a nut.

"They also take the principle that there is a shortage of housing but Fife Council do not believe that there is. I think these issues will be fundamental to the outcome of the decision."