A SIX-YEAR long dispute over the use of common good land in Dunfermline will return to court next month. 

A "procedural hearing" went ahead at the city's sheriff court on May 3, to establish if Fife Council can lease or sell a small plot on the corner of New Row and Park Avenue, and the case is due to call again on June 28. 

The sheriff has asked Central Dunfermline Community Council for more details on their objections to the proposal, which would see the Alhambra Theatre Trust use a small section of the common good land as part of their ambitious plans for the Ironmongers Studio, a new performing arts centre. 

Dunfermline Press: This is what the Ironmongers Studio in Dunfermline will look like.This is what the Ironmongers Studio in Dunfermline will look like. (Image: Newsquest)

Last month the community council told the Press it had petitioned the court to reject Fife Council's application to dispose of "common good assets". 

They had added: "The land was gifted for the wellbeing and benefit of, and is owned, by the people of Dunfermline."

To improve access to the new performing arts centre, which was given planning permission in August 2020, the theatre trust want to use a 15-square-metre area of common good land.

Their proposals include a 200-seat theatre, cinema, café and bar area, as well as a home for the Alhambra Stage School, but the dispute has held up their plans.

Dunfermline councillors were split over the issue but eventually voted in favour, it was also backed by Fife Council's assets and corporate services committee but, because it is common good land, the final decision must be taken by a sheriff. 

The community council said they've been fighting against the proposal since 2017. 

The common good land in question, which is across the road from the Alhambra Theatre, is 376 square metres in size and is currently a formal garden with flower beds, shrubs and benches.

The plot was gifted to the “City and Royal Burgh of Dunfermline” in 1962 by the Carnegie Dunfermline & Hero Fund Trustees with a prohibition on development in order that it be maintained as open space. The site is held on the Common Good Account.

It's next to the old Watt & Dewar building which the theatre trust will convert into the Ironmongers Studio.

A spokesperson for the Alhambra Theatre Trust told the Press last month: "Whilst we fully understand and respect an individual's right to object, we feel it important to clear up a misunderstanding.

"The Alhambra Theatre Trust have not asked for a disposal of the land.

"The trust have asked for permission to extend a path along the edge of the common good ground to access our own property and create another access at the proposed Ironmongers Studio.

"The Alhambra Theatre Trust, from the very outset of these negotiations, have agreed to pay an annual fee to Fife Council for this access.”