I recently wrote to the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, regarding the proposed development of Rosyth waterfront.
Like most, I have always wanted to see jobs created on this site and in recent years have become more convinced that the best way to achieve this is through a mixed development approach to the waterfront site.
There are opportunities for major investment, development and jobs being missed. The Scottish Government Reporter must listen to the views of the local community before making decisions which could harm potential development of areas. See the letter I wrote to the Minister below:
I am writing to raise with you the development of the Rosyth waterfront and the way it has been dealt with in the consideration and finalisation of the Fife Plan. I raised this issue with you when we met on 12th January this year and I agreed to follow up in writing once I had met with the key stakeholders involved.
I have now met with the owners of the site and representatives of Fife Council and I am asking for a review of the way this matter has been dealt with through the Fife Proposed LDP Examination Report as I believe that the Scottish Government Reporter has failed to take on board key representations made on behalf of the local community, the owners of the site and Fife Council. I also believe the Scottish Government Reporter has reached conclusions with no evidence to support them.
There is also a failure to recognise this brownfield site has potential to meet some of the land supply for new housing needed which, in turn, could take pressure off the greenfield developments being approved by the Scottish Government Reporter on appeal despite the refusal of such applications from Fife Council and opposition from the local communities. Spencerfield in Inverkeithing being a good example of this unacceptable and undemocratic practice.
As a result of the Scottish Government Reporter’s decision, the waterfront site will be allowed to lie dormant for more years whilst nothing happens and opportunities for major investment, development and jobs are missed.
In the submission made, Fife Council confirmed (on page 348 of the Report) that the Council’s Executive Committee agreed at its meeting on 23rd June 2015 to “recognise that the site had been stagnant for a prolonged period of time and that it was therefore appropriate to consider opportunities for a broader range of mixed use development options that would complement the waterfront’s role as a European gateway for trade, commerce, and tourism and reflecting the potential of this area emerging from the forthcoming designation of the Forth Bridge as a World Heritage Site”. The minute of this meeting was also submitted as a Core Document to the LDP Examination.
As you know, I have long campaigned for a new crossing for the Forth and I am a big supporter of the new bridge being built just now. This gives us the opportunity to look again at how the waterfront site can be developed. For many years, the view was that any mixed use could jeopardise port related industries locating to the area.
The first point on this is that over all those years there has not been the kind of port related developments for the site that were promised and it starts to look like wishful thinking on the part of the authorities. The second and more substantive point is that we can now see from other port related developments elsewhere that mixed use can absolutely work and I have been highlighting such projects to Fife Council officials for the last few years as evidence that there has to be a change of thinking for this site.
In rejecting mixed use the Scottish Government Reporter stated in the overall conclusions set out at paragraphs 163 to 165 on pages 371 and 372 that: “In summary, I find that Rosyth has an important national role as a port. There is justification for reserving land within the representation site for transport, industrial and business uses. These uses are ones that may require or may be attracted to a location that is close to port facilities. This is reinforced by imminent excellent connection to the strategic road network, the possibility of a rail freight facility and the prospect of a new international container terminal. The introduction of mixed uses as envisaged in the indicative master plan would seriously reduce the capacity of the representation site to accommodate business uses, would make the site less attractive to such uses and could conflict with business operations on other land in the vicinity”.
There is no evidence to support this and it needs to be reviewed as a matter of priority with a clearer explanation of how this view was formed and what is the evidence for it. This knocks back the massive potential for this site with no factual evidence to support the justification, therefore in my mind with no justification.
The evidence from other areas is that mixed development of port areas can bring investment in housing, in tourism attractions and venues including restaurants, entertainment and leisure and that in turn supports and attracts business and industry to locate there as well.
We need in Fife this kind of vision for this site and we are being denied the opportunity by the decision of the Scottish Government Reporter.
In short Minister, the Scottish Government Reporter has ignored the views of the local community, the democratically elected Council and the developers of the site who have made a substantial investment to clean the site up to the point where it can take any development at all, and has done so with it would seem no basis and no evidence for the decision. It is a decision based on assumptions and assertions with little, if any, evidence and as a result denying the potential for major investment in tourism, housing and significant jobs programmes both short and long term.
This decision must be reviewed by Ministers as it is not good for Fife or Scotland and makes a mockery of the planning processes in our country.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Alex Rowley MSP
Mid Scotland and Fife