DESPITE nearly 500 objections from angry villagers, plans which would see more than 100 homes built on the site of Hillside School in Aberdour would be of benefit to the village.

That’s the view of Philip Neaves, director of Felsham planning and development, who have put forward the proposals on behalf of the school.

They hope to build 125 new houses on the current school site and relocate the existing school.

However, since the planning application was lodged in May, 458 objections have been made.

Last month, more than 70 residents attended a meeting of Aberdour Community Council to voice their concerns. Villagers fear the proposals will double Aberdour’s size and put extra pressure on its already stretched facilities.

Responding to the high quantity of objectors, Mr Neaves said they estimated the new properties would only increase the village’s population by around 17 per cent.

He said the site was an “obvious location” for further development and would continue a pattern of development established since the 1970s.

“That means considerable attention needs to be paid to the consequences of not granting planning permission. There are 70 dwellings already permitted in the Local Plan,” he explained.

“Developing that out will inevitably lead to pressure on the remaining land; if that is developed separately it will result in piecemeal development that will be more dense and less well planned.

“We are quite certain that this site will be developed, just as the Glebe has been, where no doubt the same arguments were raised. This proposal instead offers a high-quality solution and eases future threat/pressure.”

But Aberdour Community Council chairman Iain Fleming said they had been overwhelmed by the strength of feeling against the plans.

“Seventy people turned up to our meeting and we asked for their views and opinions to shape our direction and it was clear from the strength of feeling that the community council had to raise an objection,” he explained. “We are happy to work with the developer. We recognise the school is an important part of the village and we understand the school’s need and desire to modernise so we are keen to work with them to help to do that.

“We were surprised to see the rebuttal in the documents which came past the deadline for public comments. The developer has the right to have their say but the way it has been done is a little off.”

However, Mr Neaves said: “Most people would accept the definition of a village as being a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town situated in a rural area, with a population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand.

“The proposed development would still ensure that the village of Aberdour would, on any view, remain a village by definition and not lose those attributes that all residents enjoy as such.

“It would allow more disposable income into the village to be spent locally, attracting further investment, and raise more council tax to help improve local facilities.

“Notwithstanding the clear benefits that new housing and population would bring to Aberdour, there is the clear benefit that the school not only provides for Aberdour but the wider area of Fife.

“There are 85 people employed at the school and 35 boys on full-time placement. The school will be relocated within the site. This will protect the jobs and create a modern, fit-for-purpose facility, as well as jobs in the construction period in relation to building both the school and residential elements of the proposal.”