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Key body backs legal challenge to Fife plan

The Courier, 11 November 2009

A body that describes itself as "Scotland's countryside champion" has backed a St Andrews resident who has challenged Fife Council's new structure plan in the Court of Session.

The Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) has said it supports a legal move that, if successful, could halt the structure plan in its tracks.

The APRS spoke as Miss Penny Uprichard said she had almost £37,500 pledged to help cover legal expenses for her appeal against Scottish ministers' approving the Fife plan. Her action, prompted mainly by her concern over plans for St Andrews, involves a section of the Town and Country Planning Acts, 1997.

Her legal papers claim Scottish ministers failed to give a proper, adequate and intelligible reason for not modifying the finalised structure plan in line with objections received. If successful, it could see the document being sent back to Fife Council.

Her legal challenge states the landscape of St Andrews cannot absorb over 1000 houses, and 10 years ago the St Andrews strategic study said the town was at its landscape capacity.

APRS director John Mayhew yesterday said the group shared the concerns expressed by many communities in Fife over the excessive scale of the structure plan's proposals for house-building and other development across Fife.

The APRS had objected to the plan at an earlier stage. Mr Mayhew said that in St Andrews there were proposals for over 1000 houses, a distributor road, 44 acres of business and science parks and a share of up to 1000 further houses in the surrounding area.

"St Andrews has already reached the point at which its attractive landscape setting cannot reasonably be expected to take any more development," he said.

"Another case is Cupar, which nestles fairly unobtrusively into the landscape - now threatened by proposals for major house building and a bypass"

He said too much development is proposed for much of Fife. "We are particularly concerned by the scale of development proposed for St Andrews, given that 10 years ago Fife Council itself published a strategic study stating St Andrews was already at its landscape capacity."

Fife councillors have been warned that if the challenge succeeds, it would directly impact on council policy. The plan attracted an unprecedented number of objections, and opposition from neighbouring local authorities such as Dundee City Council.

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