PLANS for a community take-over of a historic West Fife pub have taken a step forward after a buy-out application was submitted to the Scottish Government.

The North Queensferry Community Trust wants a community buy-out of the Albert Hotel on Main Street with the aim that it will be restored for the good of the village.

An application has now gone to the Scottish Government applying for consent to exercise the right to buy under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 with a decision expected in the Spring.

Dating back to 1824, the pub has been closed since 2017.

Its owners, Festival Inns, previously applied for a change of use so they could convert the C-listed building into flats but this was met with 133 letters of objection.

The plans were rejected by Fife Council’s west and central planning committee and an appeal to the Scottish Government also failed.

Earlier this year, a fresh planning application was submitted outlining proposals which would see the building remain within its existing use, with a bar and restaurant relocated to the lower ground floor with use of the external terrace overlooking the Forth Bridge.

It also proposed that hotel rooms on the upper floors would be amalgamated to provide larger apartments while works were planned which would include the refurbishment of the fabric of the property, particularly to the lower ground where prevention measures against moisture ingress and damp are needed.

These plans were, however, withdrawn in August.

Iain Mitchell QC, chair of the Community Trust, was pleased to see their proposals progressing.

"The application to purchase has now gone in and is pending," he said. "This means, of course, that they (the site owners) cannot do anything about selling the property while the ministers consider it.

"It is all looking very hopeful and promising. We have been buoyed up by the amount of interest it has generated locally and nationally. We are in talks with potential funders.

"It is not just a case of big funders though. We will be doing fundraising as well."

Earlier this year more than 120 people turned out at a meeting to discuss plans for a community buy-out.

Villagers previously formed a not-for-profit company, The Albert Community Group Ltd, with the aim of buying the building and restoring it for community use.

If successful, it is hoped the bar would be returned to the ground floor, with a restaurant created and rooms made available to community groups.

Funding could be available through several bodies, including the Scottish Land Fund for purchase and the community ownership fund, the lottery heritage fund and the architectural heritage fund for restoration.