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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Clifftop proposals a 'planning disaster'

The Courier, 18 November 1998

Proposals by an American business man for a £50 million hotel and golf development on a clifftop site overlooking St Andrews Bay have been branded “an unmitigated planning disaster,” which are not wanted.

The claim has been made by St Andrews Community Council, the latest in a long line of objectors to the project earmarked for a green-field site at Kingask, on the outskirts of the town.

Council vice-chairman Dr Frank Riddell said yesterday, “There is no doubt in the minds of our planning committee that the Kingask development would be an unmitigated planning disaster for the city of St Andrews and should be rejected.”

The main case by the local body focuses on the wider implications of the planned multi-million pound hotel, conference and leisure project for the future of St Andrews, which they maintain have not been sufficiently considered and taken into account.

Dr Rlddell said that in particular the size and scale of the development would, without doubt, bring additional pressure for the building of more housing in and around the university town, result in further accommodation problems for the already overcrowded Madras College secondary school and see a major increase in traffic problems.

He said, “This is contrary to the wishes of the local community who recently said overwhelmingly in responses to a Fife Council consultation document that housing around St Andrews should be limited and the countryside safeguarded.”

Particularly strong criticism has been levelled by the community council on the traffic impact study made in support of the application to Fife Council, which they claim “grossly underestimates” the likely effect on the town centre.

Dr Riddell added, “The studies on traffic flow were made on a half-day closing Thursday after the end of the tourist season, but before the start of the university term. No assessment is made of the traffic likely to be generated by 600 visitors to the conference centre.

“The traffic impact assessment is one of the shoddiest documents in support of a planning application that I have ever seen, while the economic assessment contains totally unrealistic assumptions and expectations.”

Among many other criticisms by the body are the impact on an area of great landscape value and unbuilt coastline and the loss of prime agricultural land, all of which they maintain are contrary to local planning policies.

American entrepreneur Don Panoz has submitted an application to develop a 240-bedroom hotel - one of the largest ever in Scotland - leisure and conference facilities, an entrance lodge and 20 Scottish ‘manor’ type houses on the site. A second application by St Andrews Bay Development Ltd involves the construction of two 18-hole golf courses.

The planned St Andrews complex, which is hoped to be up and running in time for the Open Championship in St Andrews in the summer of 2000, is designed to attract corporate business as well as tourists from all over the world.

The developers say it will provide a massive jobs boost to the area with the creation of more than 300 jobs.

However, the community council maintain that the designs of the buildings are “alien to St Andrews,” closely resembling that of a hotel by Dr Panoz in Braselton in the American state of Georgia.

Dr Riddell added, “Design that is appropriate for the southern USA is not necessarily acceptable in rural Scotland. The developers should have used local architectural styles for the hotel design and not recreate Georgia.”

The council also claim that the proposals are a clear breach of several planning policies and point out that the outstanding natural heritage setting of St Andrews is an important factor to be considered in development control.

Dr Riddell concluded, “At a time when the people of St Andrews have clearly expressed their views that they want the green environment of St Andrews to be protected and development limited, this proposal is unnecessary, unwelcome and unwanted.”

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