With the council election looming on May the 4th (resisting Star Wars pun), I figured I’d try and write something related on here.
I ended up down a couple of rabbit holes and as such, this is a post with a particular focus on a couple of issues related to the Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch – mostly Markinch, because I live there and want to understand if my local councillors are working to benefit the community or not.
I should qualify that I don’t intend this to be party political – for local elections I think party alignment is low priority, and plays second fiddle to creating value for the community. This is just a few notes on a particular subject that’s related.
Glenrothes North, Leslie and Markinch get 4 councillors.
At the time of writing, they are:
Councillors receive a salary of £16,893. Elections usually happen every 4 years, but were postponed for one year this time round so they didn’t clash with the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.
Multiply the salary by 5 and you have £84,465 worth of taxpayers money per councillor. £337,860 for all 4 serving this area. Probably enough to justify an expectation of some positive impact on the communities they serve.
Edit: These are the current councillors – if you want to see a list of who is standing in this year’s local election, The Courier has a good rundown over here.
This post will focus on the Dalgynch Kitchen cafe in Markinch, and a little on John Beare, who was first elected to Fife council in 2006 .
Back in 2014, John fell out with the then Glenrothes and Central Fife MP, Lindsay Roy, and posted something on facebook .
There was a bit of ‘he said, she said’ but ultimately the handbags were decommissioned and it all faded away into fish and chip wrappers, but John was quoted at the end of the gazette’s article saying:
Bullying is never acceptable. I intend to continue to address issues of real concern to my constituents, without fear or favour.John Beare
It’s always difficult when a tree that is important to a community has to be felled.John Beare
Anyway, this is really just a collection of stuff that’s already available publicly online – just pulled together to make it a little more digestible. I’ve linked to the sources where I remembered.
I grew up in Markinch and used to go in to the corner shop here and get 10p mixtures at lunchtime from Jim who owned it at the time. Usually he couldn’t be bothered counting out 10 individual sweets so just threw in a handful and you’d be flaunting your bonus sweets in the playground like you’d won the lottery.
It was called the ‘Pop Inn’ and it was always there as I grew up and always sold pies and bridies and other things you can chuck in a microwave for 2 minutes to tide you over.
At some point Jim sold it up and (I’m not sure if there was a long break or not) it reopened as “Pop Inn Again”.
The reincarnated Pop Inn sold pretty much the same stuff, along with a load of gifty crafty stuff that used to bewilder me when I walked past. It seemed to do okay though, and it sold hot food too.
Then, more recently, it was bought by new owners and re-opened as the Dalgynch Kitchen – more of a coffee place than a corner shop.
If you try and visit today, you’ll see that it’s closed.
Prior to the Dalgynch Kitchen opening, it’s always been classed as a corner shop (Class 1 shop) – it’s always sold hot food, but a proper cafe needs to meet different regulations and is considered a Class 3 shop.
John Beare objected to the reclassification – he lives right above the shop, and it looks like he was concerned about the impact a new classification might have on his place. He’s also on both the Central Area Planning Committee, and the Fife Planning Review Body, so has a good understanding of the what differentiates a cafe from a corner shop selling hot food.
His objection letter is below (was posted on the Dalgynch Kitchen facebook page):
Restaurant/Cafe/Snack Bar and takeaway.
My attention has in particular been brought to one or the ‘supporting statements’ which clams that from 2001-7/8 by Mr Keddie that the premises operated as a premises selling ‘hot and cold food with the option to sit in or take away’. The Council’s records and Mr Keddie’s application of 2002 do not support Mr Keddie’s assertions, in so far as his own Application for Registration of Food Premises conﬁrm he was not engaged in the sale of ‘take away’ (other than sandwiches) or that he had the facility for seated customers.
It Is also my understanding and recollection that while the shop at that time did sell cold rolls / sandwiches made on the premises, I am not aware that It sold any hot foods/drinks at any stage prior to it being sold to the occupants who managed and operated It as the ‘Pop In Again’ from the Summer of 2006. In addition to the conflict in dates, it should also be noted that the shop from 2001/6 was primarily a traditional ‘corner shop’ which sold newspapers, magazines, tobacco, sweets, cards, etc. And had a license for Off License sales of alcohol. As the sales area was at that time some 5mts x 4mts which contained full length sales counters on the South and West sides of that space, in addition to magazine racks, It was not physically possible to have any seating to ‘sit In’ and nor did I see any such seating when I regularly visited the shop when I worked on the adjacent Commercial St In Markinch, from 2003.
While there is no supporting statement from the property owners from 2006/ 15. In its incarnation as the ‘Pop In Again’, when the shop space was given a modern look and the sales area was opened up to encompass the entire premises. And while there Is no doubt that hot drinks and on occasion Stovies /Bacon Rolls, etc. were sold from the premises, in that time the premises did also sell Cold rolls, newspapers, magazines, gifts, cards, juices, ice cream, crafts, sweets, preserves. etc. It Is my understanding that a Class 1 shop may sell hot drinks If they are incidental to the main business, which In this case they were as there was little more than two ring stove without any extraction equipment/ductwork) to prepare hot food.
All of the above render the appellants submissions 1, 2 and 3 as unreliable (In addition to similar submissions made to the planning authority) it may also be of note that the neighbour in Document 4 became resident adjacent to the premises In the autumn of 2011.
If photographic or other verifiable evidence of the alleged use from 2001-6 or indeed up to 2009/11 is not available then It Is my understanding that the assertions in the statement from Mr Keddie and other supporting statements may not be relied upon in assessing the application, if it was minded to approve the application, particularly where the Councils records differ to the supporting statements.
The one piece of photographic evidence that appears to support the application (from Google Streetview) was taken in 2009. It correctly advises that there was seating within the premises. That there was seating is not in dispute, It is my understanding that a single table and 4 chairs was Installed In 2008/9 and was occasionally used for seating customers was generally used by staff and management for seating when on breaks. It is also my understanding that the acceptance of a 2009 photograph does not support the alleged uses of the premises from 2001-6 or prior to that. It Is also my understanding that moving from a Class 1 premises which contained a table for staff, to a Class 3 premises which in an entirely food/drunk based business, with In excess of 12 seats the installation of cooking/extract/music systems is an entirely different business model and use class.
The Scottish Government Circular 1/1998 advises that; ‘Shops selling cold food, such as sandwiches, for consumption off the premises fall within Class 1. A sandwich bar does not cease to be in the shops 2 class merely because it also sells hot drinks, or if a few customers eat on the premises. Shops whose primary purpose is the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises have been taken out of class 3 (Food and Drink) and are now sui generis. Post Offices but not postal sorting offices, will be within the shops class.
Paragraphs 2.3.2. and 2.3.3 of the Council’s Report of Handling confirm the previous uses observed by its Officers were not Class 3 use. It would appear evident that a single table noted above from 2009 to 2015, providing limited seating is compliant with a Class 1 use according the above Scottish Government circular, and that the Class 3 usage only commenced ln 2015.
In the event that the DPEA was minded to allow the appeal, It is my understanding that any approval would normally be accommodated by appropriate conditions which would control the use of the premises, to ensure the amenity of the adjoining properties and particularly the residential amenity of the adjoining and neighbouring domestic premises. l’m advised that these conditions would normally include. The type and scale of the foods that can be sold for consumption on the premises, in that they should be ancillary to the main use, whether it is at all appropriate to cook unprepared foods on the premises and if it is, the location of and range of any equipment installed to cook hot food; the suitability of any ventilation systems to remove all smells from penetrating adjoining premises including the number of air changes; the fire and safety risks and any systems installed to combat same, including the impact of these on adjoining properties; the opening hours and the hours when the premises could be used for preparation of foods or other uses; The impact of any equipment within the premises on adjoining properties in terms of noise and vibration; the use of any amplified or other sound systems; the provision of any features to dampen/eliminate noise, in respect of the acoustic treatment of the premises to prevent any operations occurring therein impacting on the amenity of adjoining and neighbouring properties.
in conclusion, prior to the November 2009/11 applications and inspection, which are themselves in conflict, there is no verifiable or other record of food being heated, etc for consumption on or off the premises and even this level and nature of production remains commensurate with a Class 1 premises in so far as the premises was also a gift/sweet shop. etc
As above, we would hope that the DPEA will consider the above content in addition to information available from the Protective Services Team at Fife Council and also Police Scotland who have witnessed the operation of the shop premises; and refuse the appeal.
27 Balbirnie St, Markinch, Fife, KY7 6DA
13 08 16
If you zoom in on the Google Streetview next to this, you’ll see that the property next to (and above) the shop, is number 27 Balbirnie Street.
Still here? – okay, so on the 10th of October, the Dalgynch Kitchen owners submitted a new application for “Change of use from shop (Class 1) to cafe (Class 3)”
All the correspondence is available on Fife Council’s planning site here.
On the 21st of October, Environmental Health inspected and wrote:
After reviewing the above application, I would advise I am of the opinion that there is potential for nearby residents to be disturbed by noise and odour from these premises.
The applicant has not provided sufficient information with regard to ventilation to demonstrate that it will be suitable and sufficient for the range of cooking to be provided. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the ventilation system serving the respective premises is appropriate for the type and level of cooking undertaken and maintained and operated effectively.
I would request that the applicant provides additional information to demonstrate that appropriate controls are to be put in place to reduce the likelihood of noise and odour complaints from nearby residents.
The applicant should refer to the Guidance on the Control of Odour and Noise from Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Systems, which can be found here.
In addition to the above, I am also concerned about the possible noise intrusion to the nearby residential properties. Therefore before the application is considered, it is recommended that the applicant submits a report by a suitably competent person, to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority. The report shall include a written scheme of how nearby residents will be protected from noise from the proposed development. The report shall include an assessment of noise emissions from the proposed development; details of background and predicted noise levels at the boundary of nearby residential properties; predicted internal noise levels within adjoining properties, together with proposed noise attenuation measures. The report shall be appropriate for all times of day and night when the development will operate. The report should include any supporting calculations.
If levels predicted in the report are unacceptable, it may be necessary to refuse the application. Otherwise, it may be necessary to specify attenuation measures as conditions of consent. The approved scheme shall be fully implemented and completed prior to occupation of the site.
A competent person should undertake any noise survey and developers may wish to contact the Association of Noise Consultants http://www.association-of-noise-consultants.co.uk/Pages/Links.htm (01736 852958) or the Institute of Acoustics http://www.ioa.org.uk (01727 848195) for a list of members.
Therefore I would suggest that the use hereby permitted shall not begin until details of the installation and/or erection of any extract ventilation system, including details of the methods of treatments of emissions and filters to remove odours and control emissions have been submitted and approved in writing by the Planner and the works specified in the approved scheme have been installed. Such works shall thereafter be retained, operated at all times when the retail unit is in use and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Planner.
Comments from Food and Workplace Safety Team
Given the information available regarding the application this service would have no objection to this application.
There’s a supporting statement from Tricia Marwick.
A noise report, which concludes that any noise falls within an acceptable range.
Another comment from John Beare, that starts with:
“We are fully supportive of a vibrant commercial offering in Markinch where the uses of commercial
premises are compatible with their surroundings.”
then goes on to:
“Across Scotland it is acknowledged that Class 3 uses can give rise to a number of issues for residential neighbours and other property occupiers in the immediate vicinity as well as the surrounding area in general. ”
and a list of reminders for the planning authority.
I attach a floor plan of the premises, showing the existing high level ducting coloured blue.
Remedial works have been carried out recently to isolate all the fixing brackets for the ducting, to reduce any possible transmission of sound to the structure.
Resilient pads have now been put in position at all fixing points, for both the ducting and the domestic cooker hood itself.
The recent noise test confirmed that this showed a marked improvement in the audible noise levels within the Coffee Bar. The Noise Report also confirmed that there was more noise from the traffic at the busy crossroads outside, than was emitted from everything being switched on inside.
I had previously offered to accept the restrictions to the operation of the premises as a Coffee Bar. There is no intention to open as a full blown restaurant. The restricted menu already forwarded gives an indication of what was previously on offer.
This application is simply to be allowed to continue, with exactly the same menu, as had been offered recently, before the premises closed. (An application with a similar restriction was recently approved in Falkland, for a similar type of premises, also with a flat above.)
The recent noise test was restricted to ground floor level.
The upstairs neighbour has been very difficult and unreasonable, according to my clients, and had previously refused to discuss matters to try and resolve any issues, preferring to go down the route of formal written objections.
In light of the clearly entrenched attitude, adopted by the upstairs neighbour, no attempts were made to check the actual noise levels at the upper floor level, as access would probably have been denied.
However, it must be assumed that noise levels can be no worse than being in the actual room below.
It should be noted that the other immediate neighbour has no complaints whatsoever, and is fully supportive.
Should you require further clarification or detail on any matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
So we’ll wait and see what happens, and I guess I’ll update this article once we know more.
Let’s finish off for now with the comments on the facebook post announcing the closure of the cafe: