STEPHENS Bakery aim to rise to the challenge of Greggs by opening a drive-thru next to their rival's outlet in Halbeath.

Plans to finally demolish the "eyesore" former Hotel Roma on Main Street have been tabled and the Dunfermline business famed for their steak bridies want to replace it with a new shop.

If approved, the bakery drive-thru will create 20 new jobs and provide stiff competition for Greggs, who are still to open their own outlet at the Pittsburgh Retail Park next door.

An application from Sonder Commercial Ltd, which shares the same address as the Stephens Bakery HQ in Rosyth, has been submitted to Fife Council.

A planning statement explained: "The proposed development is to enhance and improve the visual appearance of Main Street by replacement of a vacant and dilapidated former hotel to provide a high-quality, purpose-built commercial property.

"The new building would be located adjacent to the existing Pittsburgh Retail Park.

"The property would accommodate a traditional baker’s shop, with storage area and staff welfare facilities.

"Additionally, the proposal uniquely integrates a drive-thru facility, creating a further addition to the Stephens Bakery growing outlets of these unique drive-thru bakeries which serves local customers in Fife."

The plans include nine parking spaces, a cycle stand and opening hours of 6am to 5.30pm, Monday to Sunday.

Hotel Roma, which was previously the Fod Arms, has been derelict for more than 15 years with locals claiming it's a "drugs den" and a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

The restaurant closed in November 2006, the abandoned building was later damaged badly by fire and vandalism and there have been repeated pleas from villagers and politicians for something to be done.

In sharp contrast, the old ruin is next door to the new Pittsburgh Retail Park which has drive-thru restaurants for Burger King and Costa Coffee, with Greggs and another three outlets still to open.

Bryce Goodall, from the Halbeath Village Tenants and Residents Association, said: "I think it's an extremely good proposal because it's going to bring a local business to the area instead of one of these big corporate companies.

"Stephens are locally-run, the produce is made locally and they're employing local people.

"And it's going to be healthy competition between Greggs and Stephens, which will be very close to each other.

"With the cost-of-living crisis, it's important we have a choice of food outlets, it should make sure goods are competitively priced and people in Halbeath get proper value for money."

Dunfermline councillor Garry Haldane said: "This is obviously good news as this building has been an eyesore and a place for groups of young adults to use as a drinking den and the grounds used as a dumping ground.

"Although the replacement drive-thru is not what the residents would have chosen, it has to be seen as an improvement.

"I have been campaigning for the last five years to see this building demolished so I am glad to see this going ahead."

Stephens, established in Dunfermline in 1873, said the opening of their bakery drive-thru in Rumblingwell in 2018 was a first for Scotland and the following year they opened units in Crossford and Kirkcaldy as part of an expansion strategy.

The statement added: "The business has ambitious growth plans to expand the offer of its new shop format and drive-thru concept elsewhere in Fife; a strategy which has been shared with senior officials at Fife Council.

"This opportunity at Main Street, Halbeath, is one such further opportunity the business is seeking planning permission to enable it to deliver its high-quality service and products in this way to the local community around Halbeath."

Stephens said the number of vehicles likely to visit the branch each week would be around 3,500 and would not affect traffic issues significantly in the area.