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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Leisure complex plan continued but sent back to drawing board

The Courier, 20 January 1999

Developers behind a £50 million golf, hotel, conference and leisure facility near St Andrews were yesterday sent back to the drawing board.

The decision to continue the controversial plans from St Andrews Bay Development Ltd came after serious concerns were raised about St Andrews being “strangled” by traffic.

It was said that to make this worse would be a “form of madness."

It was decided that the developers should be asked to think again about the size and location of the complex and about the finishing materials planned for the hotel.

Following the discussion, heard in a packed County Hail in Cupar, St Andrews Bay Development Ltd expressed their “great concern" over the decision and said that they would be meeting their advisers to consider the position.

There had been an enthusiastic recommendation for approval from area planning manager Jim Birrell, who told the committee that the application represented the biggest investment ever contemplated in East Fife and the single biggest development.

Mr Birrell said he had been asked if the project represented a choice between economics and the environment but said the situation was much more complicated than that.

Since the plans were first lodged, the development had been scaled down in size from 240 to 208 bedrooms, with the number of accommodation lodges cut from ten to five.

A number of national bodies were lined up in protest against the plans, along with local organisations such as the preservation trust and the community council.

However, there was also powerful backing for the project, with Fife Council’s own economic development department, and Fife Enterprise, expressing support.

After lengthy discussion it was decided unanimously by the committee that the application should be continued.

Chairman Peter Douglas said it had been made clear that St Andrews was already almost strangled and to add to this congestion seemed like a “form of madness.”

While traffic issues were critical, he said, there was also concern about other matters, including the fact that the scheme was very much a variation of what had been envisaged when outline consent was approved with the steading to form the basis of a hotel.

The current plans, he said, moved away from that altogether.

During the discussion it was made clear to the committee that the impact of traffic would result in “direct conflict” with the St Andrews Transportation Plan, which had resulted from years of study.

Traffic engineer Peter Milne said that St Andrews was a medieval town with narrow streets and not a lot of scope for improvements in traffic handling.

He said that a lot of extra traffic movements would be generated - up to 750 per day - at a time when the transportation plans wanted to cut down congestion and the number of vehicles in the town.

Asked what sort of development would result in an acceptable traffic impact, Mr Milne said that this would probably be in the form of a small country hotel.

As the decision was made to continue the application, it was made clear by councillors Elizabeth Riches and Frances Melville that the committee did not object to an economic boost or job creation.

Mr Blrrell said that if continuation was an alternative to refusal of the application, he would rather see this happen.

One councillor who expressed his emphatic support was East Neuk member James Braid, who said that the project was “far too important” to be affected by issues such as views or traffic.

Mr Braid was, however, prepared to see the application continued.

Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Developers express 'great concern' over decision

The Courier, 20 January 1999

After the meeting the developers said that there was great concern over the decision and they hoped that the hotel would be open in time for the millennium Open at St Andrews in July 2000.

Chief executive of Fountainhead Development, Henk Evers, said the company had worked hard to revise the original plans by reducing the size of the hotel and conference centre and by proposing landscaping to reduce visual impact.

“This project, our first in Europe, could still bring many jobs to north east Fife and a considerable boost to the local economy. We were pleased that the area planning manager recommended approval of our plans, and are naturally disappointed that the committee chose to continue the application rather than make a decision,” Mr Evers said.

His disappointment was echoed by Des Montgomery of architects Montgomery Forgan Associates of Cupar who said that the project remained a world class development offering great benefits to the area.

Mr Evers and the St Andrews Bay operations director lain MacKinnon will now meet their advisers.

Last night the SNP’s prospective MSP for North East Fife, Colin Welsh, expressed disappointment.

He said that the committee had been given an extremely comprehensive report but still delayed making a decision.

It was clear, said Mr Welsh, that only Councillor Braid wanted to reach a conclusion and that the rest of the committee had been glad to put off a difficult choice.

“The SNP will continue to back this scheme on the grounds of economic necessity and the need to create and maintain jobs in east Fife,” he said.

Ted Brocklebank, the prospective Conservative candidate, described the decisions as “massive victories for common sense."

He described the day as “vital” and congratulated those at local and council level who had stood up to the “money men and their spin doctors” who were trying to turn the area into “a giant theme park.”

He applauded members of the committee who had shown “more mature judgment than the paid planning representatives, not to mention Fife Enterprise and the Kingdom of Fife Tourist Board”, who, he said, were being swept along by the lure of fool’s gold.

Mr Brocklebank added that, while he was in favour of a suitable golf development, “The St Andrews Bay development proposals were clearly far too grandiose for the time scale.”

He said the complex would “seriously blemish the St Andrews skyline” and said “the developers continued to ignore the fact that the original planning approval was given for the Kingask steading site which does not directly overlook St Andrews.”

Mr Brocklebank said that to have allowed such a departure from the St Andrews Strategic Plan would have “driven a horse and cart” through the proposed green belt.

He said that the decision to continue the proposals until these matters were seriously addressed were “absolutely correct.”

He also urged any other organisations planning similar proposals to take heed of yesterday’s decision.

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