"UNACCEPTABLE" plans to build a McDonald's drive-thru restaurant and a petrol station just outside Kelty have been refused by Fife Council.

Land owner Ian Maclellan and TG Convenience Stores Ltd wanted to develop the Kathellan Home Farm site at junction 4 of the M90 and said the roadside services would create 72 full-time equivalent jobs and inject £1.5 million into the local economy.

However, planners said there was no justification for using a countryside site and no safe pedestrian route for customers walking to McDonald's from Kelty.

Despite 74 letters of support, councillors on the west and central planning committee agreed with the officer recommendation and refused permission.

Planner Jamie Penman said: "Development in the countryside is only acceptable in certain circumstances, including where it's an extension to an established business or where there's a proven need for a countryside location.

"The development falls into neither of those two categories.

"Whilst there is an existing commercial premises within the site, the proposals for a petrol station and drive-thru restaurant are not related to the existing use in any meaningful way."

The site of the proposed Blairadam Forest roadside services is west of Kelty – outside the boundary of the village – and the M90 and south of the B914.

It includes the overspill car park for the former Baxters restaurant and the aim was to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mr Penman said: "No evidence has been put forward by the applicants that demonstrates there is a lack of such services on the M90 motorway network or that there is an established need for such a facility in the area."

Department of Transport guidance is that motorway service stations should be no more than 28 miles apart and that the distance between services at Ratho and Kinross was 22.5 miles, Mr Penman stating there was "no strategic need" for the development.

The applicants pointed out that a 50-bedroom hotel and conference centre had been approved for the site in 2009 but Mr Penman said that permission had lapsed and was approved under a previous development plan where "policies may have been different".

He said: "All those points are noted, the economic benefit and the prior planning history, but none of those arguments outweigh the concerns raised as regards the development being an unjustified development in the countryside."

The proposals were also "unacceptable in terms of the wider road safety impact" as the applicants did not have control of the land required to make the necessary junction improvements with the B914.

Mr Penman said that – contrary to what the applicant claimed – McDonald's would likely attract customers walking from Kelty.

And he explained: "There is no safe route available to the site from within Kelty with pedestrians having to navigate the slip roads of the M90 and the narrow footpaths on the overpass with no acceptable improvements or alternatives being proposed by the applicant."

However, Cllr Ally Bain said: "There are also applications on the horizon for other areas next to this site, for the eco-therapy park at St Ninians.

"If this doesn't go ahead, I'm assuming that it's doubtful that will go ahead at St Ninians for the same reasons, and we're talking then close to 700 jobs rather than 72.

"If we're trying to attract jobs to the area this isn't going to help and there's a lot of support in Kelty for this application."

Mr Penman said the St Ninians site was zoned for leisure use and any road safety concerns would be dealt with when an application was tabled.