THERE are fears that planning officers are going to back the development of Prestonhill Quarry in Inverkeithing.

The latest information on Fife Council's planning portal states the proposal “is not considered to be significantly contrary to the development plan”, which has caused concern for local councillors.

That's despite conclusions by planning staff that the proposed development "does not comply" with two policies in the FIFEplan Local Development Plan 2017.

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

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

Councillor David Barratt, who represents the area, told the Press: "There are further issues which remain outstanding, including on natural habitat and on drainage proposals, but it is concerning that the council’s planning service appears to be moving in the direction of approval.

"This comes as a surprise given the same document questions the validity of the affordable housing contribution and notes the development fails to comply with other policies within FifePlan.

"While the decision will be made by the planning committee, an officer recommendation carries significant weight and would count in favour of the proposal if it were refused and subsequently appealed."

DDR are seeking permission to create a mixed-use development with approximately 180 homes, holiday lodges, cafe/bistro, associated access, open space, landscaping, SUDS and other infrastructure.

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 be replaced with a more gradual sloped bank. The pond has been the scene of a number of tragedies in recent years, with three deaths in separate incidents over the past decade.

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.

The proposals attracted dozens of comments from local residents and groups with many objections among them.

Surveys conducted by Inverkeithing Community Council indicated that 81 per cent were against the development and a strong feeling (70 per cent) against the infilling of the quarry pool amounting to a destruction of green space.

Fife Council's education department have also stated that the development would result in a capacity risk for the schools in the area.

Cllr Barratt added: "I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would be sympathetic to a sensitive development of the site but I believe the proposal on the table is too far from what the community want to see.

"I engaged the developer at an early stage to highlight local concerns and to make constructive comments. For me, the loss of open space and the loss of the quarry pond is a step too far.

"It's not unusual for planning applications to be approved despite strong community opposition, we've seen that in the case of the new McDonald's in Duloch.

"Neither I, nor Councillor Alice McGarry will have any role in the determination of the application but we will continue to monitor the application and support the community in expressing their voice on this proposal.

"There's no indication of when it will go to committee so it's a waiting game."