The East Neuk is the local term for Fife’s string of small burghs and harbours along its easternmost coast with its hinterland of historic country houses. Described by King James IV as ‘a fringe of gold to a beggar’s mantle’, the area flourished in the late middle ages and was then bypassed by industrialisation, and so has retained much of its historic character.
The reasons the East Neuk needs preserving have changed over the years but are still as compelling as when the Society was established in 1961.
At that time many of the East Neuk’s older houses were ruinous and in danger of demolition or collapse, but since then its historic buildings have mostly been saved for future generations, thanks to improved planning and conservation area protection and in no small part to the Society’s efforts.
The focus of the Society has therefore shifted to protecting the unique charm of the area from the pressure of modern development. It is this charm which has made the area so popular with holiday makers and attracted new residents from all over the UK and has created a boom in the housing market and causing the loss of local amenities such as shops, pubs and churches, as well as creating an acute housing shortage for those born and brought up in the area.
These pressures pose the Society with the challenge of supporting the legitimate need for new housing while opposing development proposals for unsympathetic large extensions and characterless housing estates with inadequate thought of reflecting local vernacular style, and with no consideration of the strains placed upon the existing infrastructure.