Burntisland listed building plan turned down

The site of the old Coupar Kirk

Fife Councillors have rejected plans to turn part of a category listed church into a private garden.

Ms Catriona King wanted to transform the remains of the Coupar Kirk, a former Free Church of Scotland, in Burntisland.

The church was built in 1843, but stopped functioning in 1861. It continued to operate as a community hall until 1977, when it was gutted by a fire. In 1986, the burnt out shell was taken down, leaving just the original stone doorway, re-built belfry and some lower church walls.

The planning application sought to turn the public space into a private garden, erecting a fence around the remaining structure.

Ms King noted in her application that the site was primarily used by teens, which has seen a rise in the vandalism in the area, but councillors were told that any anti social behaviour in the area could have no impact on the decision of the C-List building.

Many local residents also opposed the application, with 10 objection submitted, including Burntisland Parish Church.

Session Clerk William Sweenie said it was “a monument to one of the most significant events in the history of the Church of Scotland (the disruption of 1843) and the significant role Burntisland played in it”.

Burntisland Heritage Trust also objected to the application.

Convenor Ian Archibald said: “This proposal is not compatible with the sensitivities of the historic area and contradicts the local authority’s statutory duty to protect and enhance conservation areas.

“The design  is obtrusive – it will be eye catching for all the wrong reasons and will do nothing to enhance the top of the Kirkgate.”

However, local resident Craig Martin supported the the “semi-derelict and neglected” site getting a redesign.

Mr Martin said: “The area is an eyesore that is one fo the first sites to be viewed by visitors travelling into town by train and is regularly used by large groups of individuals in an anti-social and intimidating manner.”

Labour councillor Gordon Langlands asked fellow members of the planning committee to consider granting permission to help towards the restoration of the site.

He said: “There is a Burntisland heritage trail that passes by  – but the society don’t mention it. There are 10 sites of interest and this isn’t one of them. It was a warehouse, then a church, then a cinema, a gym and finally a paint store. It was a church for just 17 years. No one tends to it, there is no maintenance.”

He moved n that planning permission be granted, saying: “I believe there is merit and this won’t detract from the historical importance of the site. It will protect the long term maintenance and stability of it.”

Conservative councillor Graham Ritchie said that he was opposed, adding: “Once we lose these things to someone else’s control, they’re gone. The historical society maybe doesn’t include this site right now, but this is a simple thing for them to correct. But once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

SNP councillor John Beare proposed an amendment, saying that councillors should go with planning officers recommendation and refuse the application.

The amendment to refuse was voted for nine to four.

Reporting by Emma O'Neill, Local Democracy Reporter

More from Local News