HomeVillage GuideLocal NewsWhat's OnThings to doNoticeboardLocal IssuesFeedbackCommunity CouncilFife CouncilLocal Links
Future of Kingsbarns - Cambo Estate proposals
Cambo Estate Development Plan - part of the Cambo Estate Objection to St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan 2009
back to Future of Kingsbarns

This is a direct copy of the text, as presented to Fife Council as part of the Cambo Estate objection to the evolving local plan.

Cambo Estate Development Plan


Historic Scotland has already recognised, Cambo estate as being worth listing in their Register of Historic Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The estate is traditionally run by a resident family, who takes their responsibility of stewardship seriously and is acutely aware that, regardless of modem conventional wisdom, they are major stakeholders in the community. Their responsibilities lie many different areas:

  1. the creation of employment
  2. preservation of historic built heritage
  3. preservation, of the landscape within the area
  4. preservation of the character of the village
  5. the vibrancy and viability of the community
  6. eco-footprint
  7. biological diversity
  8. environmental sustainability
  9. economic sustainability

The importance to Scotland of having a substantial areas of land under one management umbrella - large private owners - can not be overstressed. It is the homogeneity of purpose, design and investment not made solely on financial criteria that has made these large estates become the parts of Scotland that most people want to visit and is the very bedrock and core of the tourist industry. It is important to realise that should the current owners be unable to carry out their development plans in the foreseeable future and decide to sell the estate it would have very far reaching implications for the local community:

  • the loss of the open access policy that the estate are currently allows
  • financial criteria for decision making would become more dominant
  • the break-up of the estate would lead to less community-based decisions
  • the well-being of the community may not necessarily be seen synonymous with the the well-being of the estate
  • the key decision-makers are unlikely to be resident in the community and could be from anywhere in the world

The estate is at a crucial stage in its development. Just within the last 33 years, whilst it has been under the stewardship of a single generation it has

  1. resisted adapting its traditional farm buildings in an attempt to get them to fit the needs of modem agriculture
  2. resisted the temptation to sell off all its cottages
  3. survived the most radical changes ever seen in such a short time in agriculture including several very serious downturns
  4. resisted abandoning the gardens
  5. found ways to improve the woodlands and exploit the snowdrops from which Fife has benefited by the tune of £2.6m (Visit Scotland)
  6. adapted the mansion house to create revenue in a world unimaginably different from the one it was designed to inhabit
  7. found tenants to create a world-class golf course, who have enhanced the landscape and created employment opportunities for up to 60 during the season
  8. established (when the school roll was 7 but is now 30) letting policies that lets affordable houses to the parents of primary school children
  9. created employment opportunities to the otherwise unemployable
  10. organised numerous cultural activities spanning all aspects of human activity from dyke building to high opera
  11. raised £100,000s for charities

Etc etc etc.

The next 25 years are absolutely crucial in preserving the infrastructure and moving it forward to make it usable for subsequent generations. The main issues lie in the enchanting farm and estate buildings, which now all need money spent on them to preserve them as their rooves are falling into disrepair,. These buildings are as follows:

  1. Cambo stables and coach house - these buildings date back to 1765, and consist of three linked courtyards with stone buildings with slate roofs and surrounding them in the style of a French chateaux. Est. £0.75m and 2 fulltime and 6 seasonal jobs
  2. East Newhall steading - a smaller but more distinctive set of farm buildings, with predominantly pantiled roofs. Est. £2.5m and 5 fulltime and 5 seasonal jobs
  3. Sawmill and nearby doocot - both stone built slated buildings again, about 1765 and built in the same decorative style as the stables. Est. £0.75m and I partime job
  4. Cambo farm steading - the most attractive set of buildings on the estate with pantiled roofed courtyards surrounded by stone built and beautifully proportioned buildings. Est. £4.5m restoration cost and 5 fulltime and 3 seasonal jobs
  5. Cambo house - the core of the estate where the house is in relatively sound condition, but will require major infrastructural plumbing, heating and wiring works to bring it up to the standards required by modern building regulations. Est £4rn and 5 fulltime and 3 seasonal jobs

Total £12.5 million plus 20 fulltime jobs and 16 seasonal jobs

Whilst it is appreciated that the estate has managed to find tenants to invest upwards of £5 million in the golf course, and there is a rare and very real opportunity that some Australian tenants will invest £2.5m in East Newhall steading for a distillery, there is a considerable amount of work to do to raise the other £10m needed, The estate has been offered money by the Scottish government are now in talks with St Andrews University about building 22 affordable houses in the centre of the village. This will require considerable borrowing and will considerably reduce the estate's capacity to raise funds directly for the other infrastructure projects.

Relationship with the village

During the last half century the population and makeup of the village has changed dramatically. The number of shops have dwindled to one and it now has a For Sale sign outside it. The pub has changed hands several times and has even been boarded up in the winter of 2001. School numbers have fluctuated from about 30 to seven, which precipitated the estate into a positive discrimination allocations policy with its rented housing.

The estate has consistently been involved in the community Council, and pointed out the dangers of the school and shop closing and the reality of them never being reopened once this has happened. Attempts to achieve some understanding this and its subsequent disastrous effect on the community have been tried over the years. St Andrews University business Department did a very clear study to this effect, and the estate's offer of funding an Enquiry by Design, with the Princes Foundation at a cost of some £35,000+ was turned down by the village.

There are 204 houses listed in the current voters roll in the ward Kingsbarns. With the school having 30 pupils there are currently 0.147 pupils per house. The reality is that several of these pupils don't actually live in the ward of Kingsbarns, and so these figures are not strictly accurate. Assuming that the figure of 48, which is the last one advanced by the education authority, is set in tablets of stone, then the building of 124 houses would be necessary to secure the future of the school . This ignores the further loss of houses to second homes.

However much the current administration claim that village schools are under no threat whatsoever, Fife is not insulated from the disastrous financial situation in the rest of the world. Even the major political parties are now admitting that the next few years are going to be some of the most difficult that most of us have ever lived through. Nothing will be safe and no area of our lives will not be looked at very carefully with a view to making financial cutbacks. A brief look at the small schools Association website will show you that in the UK framework any school below 120 pupils is at risk.

The speed that the community of Boarhills lost its young families when the school closed has been commented by a number of people in the community and surprised us all. They too all lament the loss of their shop. No one talks of them reopening.

Whilst the current school roll, which now includes preschool children is 30. The education department have stated that 48 children would secure the future of the school. The current administration, happily assure us that the school is entirely safe. However, as we are going in to a long period of financial cutbacks and stringency it is unlikely that this happy position can possibly be maintained. One look at the website of the small schools Association, GB wide organisation, will show you that to them school viability is much higher and closer to the hundred mark.

The community recently carried out a survey of opinion on future development in the village. Their reception of our housing proposals have been relatively well received. However the community was asked whether they wanted 40,20 or 10 new houses in the community. Needless to say, and in line with every other survey with three choices they chose the middle one. No attempt was made to suggest more than 40 houses might be appropriate.

Sir Peter Erskine Bt., Cambo House, Cambo Estate, Kingsbarns, St Andrews, Fife KY1G 800

back to Future of Kingsbarns   up to Top