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Fife Structure Plan - Legal challenge to this “developers’ charter” -
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Resident’s 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 Scotland’s legal system with a challenge to Fife’s 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 trust—which she says has considerable assets and a history of defending the town—to 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 town’s 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 landscape capacity.

“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 possible costs.

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.

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