St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
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Big guns back St Andrews £50m golf and leisure
The Courier, 15 January 1999
Proposals for a £50 million hotel, conference and golf
course development near St Andrews were boosted yesterday by several big guns
pledging their support. Fife Enterprise, tourist board and chamber of commerce
all publicly backed the clifftop project at Kingask overlooking St
Andrews Bay two miles south-east of the town.
Chiefs of the St Andrews Bay Development Company are said
to be delighted at the heavyweight support for the project that would create
one of Scotlands largest conference and leisure facilities and is
expected to provide 300 jobs.
Yesterday, a company spokesman said more than 800 people
had written to Fife Council backing the Kingask scheme which, with the
St Andrews Gateway project, will be considered by the area planning and
development committee at Cupar next week.
Des Montgomery, of project advisers Montgomery Forgan
Associates, Cupar, said an unprecedented number of letters from St
Andrews residents backing the project had been sent to council planners since
modified designs were recently submitted to Fife Council. Support had also come
from Boarhills, Kingsbarns, Leuchars and Guardbridge.
He added it was now evident that local residents had
welcomed the changes in the developers plans, their assurances about the
Fife Coastal Path and the implementation of environmental measures. In
particular, they have welcomed the traffic management measures which, when
enforced, will improve traffic flow in St Andrews, he said.
Kingdom of Fife Tourist Board chairwoman Elizabeth Dunlop
said yesterday, A development like this will make a major contribution to
the Fife tourism industry. It will enable the board, in particular our in-house
convention bureau, to pursue new avenues of business and attract specific
events of a size which cannot currently be handled by existing
Robert MacKenzie, chief executive of Fife Enterprise,
added, This proposal offers a unique opportunity for Fife to secure a
major hotel, leisure and conference facility and will create significant
business and employment opportunities in North East Fife.
The two 18-hole golf courses, 208-bedroom luxury hotel and
conference facility and five executive-type lodges will cater to blue-chip
company conferences and create 500 jobs in the construction phase, said Dr Don
Panoz, chairman of the St Andrews Bay Development Company. He claimed more than
£14 million would be brought to the Fife economy in the first year alone,
while guests at the complex would extend the tourist season into a 12-month
operation, pouring millions of pounds in extra spending into local hotels,
restaurants and shops.
However, widespread opposition to the plans persists, in
particular from St Andrews Community Council, St Andrews Preservation Trust and
the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.
The community council has reacted with
disbelief to the recommendation for approval given by local
planning chief Jim Birrell to the St Andrews Gateway Centre and Kingask
projects, which go before Fife Councils east area development committee
Community council vice-chairman and planning convener Dr
Ian Goudie warned, This puts us close to meltdown for planning policy for
the town. If applications as rank and gross as these are approved, then
virtually anything goes. In particular, the concept of a Green Belt is
scuppered before it gets off the ground.
The £8 million Gateway Centre, at the western
entrance to the town at the universitys North Haugh science campus, would
comprise a museum, international visitor centre and club complex and is
expected to create about 70 jobs.
Dr Goudie yesterday said the community council was
surprised that Mr Birrell had given the green light for the
developments even before scaffolding had been erected to show the outline of
the four-storey Gateway Centre and the Kingask hotel complex.
He added, The scaffolding is to be in place for site
visits this morning. It is rumoured that it is unlikely to be left much longer
than that. If this is so, the developers are clearly reluctant to reveal the
real visual impact of the buildings.
He said that the Kingask developers had pooled huge
resources into promoting their scheme, but claimed that hopes of a significant
employment boost could prove a cruel illusion.
Dr Goudie continued, Little economic insight is needed
to see that a scheme that depends on flying in a continuous stream of Americans
is likely to prove hare-brained.
If it were to be approved, the damage to the town
will be huge. The demand from employees for housing in St Andrews would
demolish the Strategic Study almost before the ink is dry.
Donald Macgregor, chairman of the community council, added,
Clearly the officials had to determine the Kingask application
within the legislative time limits. I believe, however, that the correct
procedure would be to refuse it and to encourage the applicant to return with a
more scaled down scheme and in proportion to the locality. There are still far
too many uncertainties for this to be acceptable.
The community council also maintains that the Gateway
Centre will dominate the view as people approach St Andrews, irreparably
damaging the entrance to the town.
Dr Goudie said, Although it has been misleadingly
described as a university development, the university museum would occupy less
than one-eighth of the building. A substantial proportion of the development
would be given over to non-university uses, including golf changing facilities,
beauty therapy, physiotherapy and saunas.
The community council urged residents to view the
scaffolding at both locations and to make their views known in a short letter
to the local authority at Cupar before the planning meeting next Tuesday. Dr
Goudie added, I would ask all those concerned for the future of the town
to do so.
Last night the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
also criticised the approval recommendations made for both plans and accused
the Kingask developers of pressure and arm twisting.
The society has been heavily critical of of both the
Kingask and the North Haugh schemes and the secretary of Tayside and
East Fife Group, Glen Pride, has re-emphasised the societys
Mr Pride said the applications still had to go to committee
and he hoped that councillors would take account of all the good arguments
which had been put against the schemes and vote accordingly.
With Kingask it has been like trying to stop a
steamroller: their representatives have been playing cards all along the
I have also heard that all over the Christmas period
people were going around with photocopied letters supporting Kingask and
getting anybody and everybody to sign them. When people adopt these sort of
tactics where are you?
Mr Pride said that as far as he was aware, there were still
unresolved problems of traffic and sewerage and he hoped that full account
would be taken of them.
With the amount of pressure and arm-twisting that has
been going on I am not surprised, but Im very disappointed.
We will just have to wait and see and hope that the
committee see sense.
He added, however, that he felt the committee was sometimes
only strong enough to deal with old Mrs McLafferty down the main
street who puts double glazing in a conservation area.
They are very good at bullying these sort of people,
but otherwise they just lie down and let It all happen.
If they let Kingask go, there is the Gateway,
and then who is going to try to stop Scoonlehill? more
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