IT'S been closed and empty for more than seven years but the loss of a shop unit in Lochgelly would harm the "vitality and viability" of the town centre.

That's the view of Fife Council and the reason why they've refused permission, for the second time, to John Hamill to convert the premises at 159 Main Street.

He wanted to knock through and enlarge his own, adjacent, ground floor flat but the local authority said that would have a negative effect on the "vitality and viability" of Lochgelly's retail offering.

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Mr Hamill unsuccessfully applied in 2017 for a change of use for the old 'Computers & Components' shop, he tried to appeal to the Scottish Government in a failed bid to overturn the decision, and now the council have shut him down again.

Central Fife Times: The Computers & Components shop on Main Street in Lochgelly has been closed for more than seven years. The Computers & Components shop on Main Street in Lochgelly has been closed for more than seven years. (Image: Google Maps)

Their report said: "Whilst it is recognised that the unit has been vacant for several years, the proposed change of use would sterilise the premises from being brought back into use for commercial purposes.

"As such, it is considered that the principle of the proposed change of use from a retail use to a non-commercial residential use is not acceptable as it would have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the core retail area."

The plans included altering and converting the shop for use as a living area with shower room, toilet and utility area all to the rear, connecting through to the existing flat by the removal of a stretch of wall.

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The planning case officer said refusal would safeguard "the vibrancy, health and resilience of the centre as a place to enjoy and visit" and argued that approval would lead to an increase in "dead frontage" and "undermine the role and function of the core retail area".

The premises have been empty since July 2016 and Mr Hamill's previous application was refused in January 2018. The council report said that he had "sought to appeal the decision but was advised by the DPEA (the Scottish Government's planning and environmental appeals division) that they had no remit to accept or consider".

It added: "There is no record of a subsequent application to the Fife planning review body."