ANGRY locals opposed to new homes at Crombie Point accused a firm of trying to manipulate the planning system by artificially increasing support for the development.

Sally Masterton highlighted that, of the 26 people in favour of the proposals, just a handful are actually from West Fife with some living as far away as Stow and Henley on Thames in England, as well as Banchory and Aberdeen.

She claimed that six letters can be traced to the Edinburgh firm of architects, Yeoman McAllister, who are representing the applicant, Jim Corrie.

In a complaint to Fife Council, Mrs Masterton, who stays in Crombie Point, wrote: "Mr Corrie and Yeoman McAllister have undertaken a devious strategy to obtain supporting comments from people who have no knowledge whatsoever of Crombie Point, its history, the location, the flood risk and the traffic hazards."

Mr Corrie, of Blairadam, has applied for permission to build two houses at Crombie Point, down by the Forth coastline, and in March the council deferred a decision.

Mrs Masterton said the only 'local' letter of support came from Murray Yeoman, the senior partner of Yeoman McAllister, who she described as a local resident but "not a resident of Crombie Point".

One of the firm's associates, Gregg Halcrow, who lives in the capital, also wrote in favour of the plans while she said five other letters of support were sent in by wives or partners of people who work for the firm.

Another objector, William Stewart, said: "It is clear to us that the developer and agent have written letters of support for their own application.

"Furthermore, other letters of support have been generated by people who can be identified as relatives of employees and employees at Yeoman McAllister.

"As a retired architect I have never, in 43 years of practice, witnessed such a blatant attempt to distort the true situation over a planning application."

He added: "While accepting that the public have the right to comment on applications, we trust that those from parties who are unaffected and have probably never been to Crombie Point will be treated with the contempt that they deserve."

Dunfermline Press: Fife Council said the rules as to who can comment on a planning application are laid down by the Scottish Government.Fife Council said the rules as to who can comment on a planning application are laid down by the Scottish Government. (Image: Newsquest)

Fife Council said the rules on who can comment on planning applications are determined by the Scottish Government and that "concerns regarding the approach by the agent" should be addressed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

A spokesperson for RIBA told the Press: "Any formal allegation of professional misconduct or incompetence against a RIBA member or chartered practice is confidential, at least until any assessment is complete."

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Mr Corrie's plans are for two homes, including garages and access, on a 3,000 square metres site at Crombie Point, which is 1.5km south-west of Crombie.

Vehicle access would be from Shore Road.

There are 38 objections including one from Torryburn and Newmills Community Council, the nearest group as Crombie Community Council is inactive.

At the west and central planning committee in March, planning officers said the development would lead to "coalescence" of two distinct and separate settlements, which is against the local authority's 'cluster policy', and recommended refusal.

However, Cllr Julie McDougall said it could be seen as small scale development on a gap site, which council policy is in favour of.

Local objectors argue that the plan would be a clear violation of the cluster policy and there are also concerns about flooding, road safety, visual impact and building on a greenfield site.

The council have asked for extra time to consider the application, until June 9.

Yeoman McAllister did not respond to requests for comment.