CRUCIAL work to stabilise old mine workings on land near Cowdenbeath town centre is to be carried out over the coming months.

Fife Council say future development on the ‘gap site’ just off the High Street cannot take place until engineering operations are done to overcome the legacy of former coal mining activities underground.

The area to the south of Factory Road, which used to be home to the town’s DSS office, has been earmarked by the local authority for housing, and talks with Kingdom Housing Association and Ore Valley Housing Association on a proposed mixed-use development have been ongoing for some time.

However, ground remediation works to shore up existing shallow mine workings are considered essential before anything more can be done in that respect.

Fife Council has now granted permission for the engineering works, and case officer Martin McGroarty explained the reasoning behind the plans.

“The site was historically mined for coal and this has left potential for the stability of the ground below the application site to be compromised by old mine workings,” he said. 

“It is proposed to remediate these issues in order for the site to be re-developed in the future as it has been identified as a development opportunity for mixed uses in the Local Development Plan. 

“The method of stabilising the land is by in-filling the subterranean voids created by the mining. 

“The method, termed grouting, involves the pressurised injection of a cement based compound directly into the voids via pre-drilled holes. 

“Once the ‘grouting’ has filled the subterranean voids, and has set, the ground is stabilised, which would allow for the safe, future development of the site. 

“It should be noted that any future development of the site is not assessed as part of this planning application and would require a separate application for planning permission in its own right.”

Fife Council acquired the derelict former DSS building and demolished it using cash from the Scottish Government’s Town Centres Fund.

As well as removing an eyesore from the town centre, the approach meant the council could include the land as part of a broader site in the region’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan.

Given the proximity of the Fife Circle railway line to the area, Network Rail was consulted on the proposals and had no objection.

However, it did so on the basis that measures would be put in place to ensure the integrity of the railway line during the grouting works.