PLANS for a new Home Bargains store in Dunfermline have been refused after a failed appeal to the Scottish Government.

Applicant TJ Morris Ltd wanted to develop an area south of Dunlin Drive but, after 173 objections, Fife Council said no and knocked back their application in September last year.

The firm asked the government's planning and environmental appeals division to overturn the decision but the reporter, Trevor Croft, has now sided with the local authority.

He said: "The major points raised by supporting comments refer to job creation and investment with good transport connections and the use of a vacant site.

"I do not consider any of these outweigh the conflict with the (council's) development plan."

Iceni Projects, planning agent for the applicant, had argued that a new retail unit with outdoor garden centre and 129 parking spaces on the 1.3 hectares site would help address a "shortfall" in local provision.

Dunfermline Press: Plans for a new Home Bargains store in Dunfermline have been refused for a second time.Plans for a new Home Bargains store in Dunfermline have been refused for a second time.

There was also 30 letters of support for the development, which promised around 100 full-time jobs and a £10 million investment into the local economy in the first three years.

The agents said applications for retail had previously been approved for the site and added: "The proposed development will deliver a new Home Bargains retail store on a vacant development plot within the Dunfermline settlement boundary."

Of the 173 objections, most related to the scale of the proposals, impact on traffic, over-development of the site and the current availability of other shops, as well as flooding concerns and the effect on wildlife.

At the west and central planning committee last September, councillors agreed with planning officers that the proposals would have a "detrimental impact" on existing and future city-centre trade.

Officers also pointed out that, while permission for retail use had been granted between 2008 and 2014, it was for "local community-based facilities" and smaller shops and plans did not progress.

Mr Croft pointed out that, in February, Scottish ministers adopted National Planning Framework 4 which superseded Scottish planning policy and strategic development plans.

He added: "The major change of circumstances since the original application was submitted is the adoption of the framework.

"This presents a significantly increased emphasis in national policy with regard to sustainability and climate change matters with significantly greater protection for town centres and the development of local neighbourhoods."

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TJ Morris said the proposals fitted with the '20-minute neighbourhoods' idea, that you can reduce car journeys by providing access to everyday shopping needs, such as fresh food, within a 20 minute walk, wheel or cycle.

However the council pointed out that 70 per cent of Home Bargains' goods were non-food items and would therefore not fit the criteria.

In his written decision, the Scottish Government reporter said that while efforts had been made to reduce emissions, it would not encourage sustainable travel and "it is still a development that relies on 120 car parking spaces to attract shoppers".

Mr Croft added: "Historically it was clearly the council’s intention for it to form a development site given the provision of the access and the granting of successive planning permissions.

"All this, however, was under different planning policies from today and the site now has no development designation in the development plan."