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Residents legal challenge to structure plan
Gordon Berry, The Courier, 4 July 2009
A campaigning St Andrews resident has just gone right to the
top of Scotlands legal system with a challenge to Fifes Structure
Plan in the Court of Session.
Legal papers have been lodged by Penny Uprichard. She could
end up with a bill of tens of thousands of pounds, but has already received
pledges amounting to £17,000 towards possible legal costs of the action -
prompted mainly by her concern over development plans for St Andrews.
Miss Uprichard has called on bodies such as the
preservation trustwhich she says has considerable assets and a history of
defending the townto back her as she takes on the might of the Scottish
ministers who approved the structure plan after a lengthy delay.
Miss Uprichard said the decision to go to court had been a
very difficult one, but she hopes that action might avert the destruction of
the town. She has used a section of the Town and Country Planning Acts, 1997,
for her appeal.
She said that proposals for St Andrews include that it
should become an economic driver for the whole of Fife, with 1090 houses and a
share of 930 more, a distributor road, and business and science parks.
Landscape assessments commissioned by Fife Council
have confirmed that this level of investment cannot be accommodated without
permanent damage to the towns landscape setting.
Councillors are now making hugely praiseworthy
efforts through the local plan to relocate some housing and protect the iconic
views of St Andrews and its surroundings.
But the local plan has to conform to the structure
plan, and pressure from council officials, developers, and the university may
rule out significant change, she said.
Miss Uprichard said the grounds for her legal challenge are
that the landscape of St Andrews cannot absorb over 1000 houses, and that 10
years ago the St Andrews Strategic Study had stated that the town was at its
There is no need or justification for this massive
amount of housing, which will result in a huge increase in traffic. All our
objections have been ignored.
In St Andrews only 30% of houses will be affordable,
if they are built, and there is little sign that the economic situation has
been taken into account.
Miss Uprichard said the legal challenge will probably take
months to come to court, and during that time she will be fund-raising to meet
She said that pledges would only be called in if necessary,
and anyone signing pledge forms would only be responsible for that amount, and
their confidentiality would be respected.
It is difficult for an individual resident, rather
than an environmental body or a charity, to lodge a legal challenge. The rules
are strict, and only people who objected to the structure plan modifications
can do this, she said.
The structure plan, which was claimed by many objectors to
be a developers charter, ran into unprecedented objection,
much of it from north-east Fife. It was the subject of often bitter debate and
controversy over about three years. more Community News back to
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