A "MISGUIDED" decision to refuse proposals for 180 homes, holiday lodges and a cafe at Prestonhill Quarry could be overturned on appeal by the Scottish Government

DDR (UK) Ltd said there was "no good reason" why Fife Council rejected their plans for Inverkeithing, which include making a feature of the Beamer Rock lighthouse that used to stand in the Forth.

The company has now submitted an appeal and insisted their vision for the quarry, where four people have died in accidents between 1973 and 2017, is the best chance to make it safe.

Their planning agent said: "If the appeal is not granted, there is no prospect of redevelopment ever taking place and the risk of further accidents at the site, as well as the problems of anti-social behaviour will remain.

"The site will continue as a significant liability and burden for the council."

A former dolerite quarry, operations at Prestonhill ceased in the 1980s and the legacy is a site with 30 feet high cliffs and a pond that's up to 11 metres deep in some places.

It's been used over the years by divers, and as a diver training venue, but has also been blighted by illegal dumping with everything from old tyres and trolleys to sunken boats and vehicles abandoned there.

The appeal added: "These features present a very significant danger to public safety. The cliff faces are unstable and there is a high risk of rock fall.

"There have been four deaths in the quarry pond in the period between 1973 and 2017. The appeal site also attracts anti-social behaviour, including fire raising and fly tipping."

DDR want to drain the deep pond and fill in the quarry, where four people have tragically died.

Twelve-year-old Robert O’Neil fell to his death in 1973, Cameron Lancaster, 18, from Burntisland, drowned in August 2014, and John McKay, 18, from Kirkcaldy, lost his life in June 2015.

In July 2017, the body of Kelda Henderson, 36, a teacher from Edinburgh who was scuba diving at the site, was recovered from the water.

The appeal states: "The opportunity to make safe a dangerous site where there have been a number of deaths in recent years is of paramount importance in the determination of the appeal.

"The appellant submits that the view of the council members that the safety advantages of the proposals do not outweigh the impacts of the development is misguided."

As well as the cafe / bistro and 180 homes, 45 of which will be affordable homes, the mixed use proposals include upgrading the Fife Coastal Path to create a "promenade" for cyclists and pedestrians, a drinking fountain, improved parking, a new path network, viewpoints and public seating, biodiversity areas and a drainage pond.

The Glasgow-based company said they would reconstruct the Beamer Rock lighthouse and make it a feature of the coastal path, as well as re-use the quarry conveyor to provide a pier in Inverkeithing Bay for leisure boats.

DDR said they tweaked their proposals after feedback from the public but their application for planning permission in principle was met with 162 objections while Inverkeithing Community Council said it "firmly opposed" the plans.

Fife Council planning officers recommended approval but in February the central and west planning committee voted 7-4 against the proposals.

At the meeting, Cllr David Coleman said: “Something needs to be done on this site but this isn’t it.

“This is not sympathetic to the area and, while I do recognise the tragedies that have occurred, and God forbid it doesn’t happen again, I do think something better needs to come forward.”  

DDR's appeal argues that the council's own planning officers concluded there would be "no significant impact" and their agent said: "Development of the site would restore and bring into productive use vacant and derelict land, and will address serious and longstanding public safety issues as well as a significant shortfall in the housing land supply."

They added that the "complex ownership" of the site had been resolved and a deal is in place to acquire the site if permission is granted.