St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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East area members are to decide on £50m
The Courier, 2 February 1999
Fife Council strategic development committee yesterday
confirmed its decentralisation policy - one of the main platforms of the Labour
administrations manifesto - by remitting the decision-making process on
£50 million development proposals to its east area members.
The developers behind the Kingask hotel, conference,
golf and leisure complex have planned for a coastal site east of St Andrews.
They asked Fife Council, through a letter from solicitors, to call in the
application for determination at the centre of operations because
of strategic issues involved and the Fife-wide implications.
Their request for a call-in came as east area councillors
were mid-way through their decision-making process and sought more in formation
on their proposals, particularly on traffic issues, scale and location.
The meeting heard that the complex would mainly be used by
conference delegates, who would take up 80% of the beds.
Committee chairman Willie Aitken said concerns had been
expressed locally on transport issues, adding, Its really a matter
for the east development committee.
Council head of planning David Rae said, This is a
significant application with economic benefits which could arise for the whole
of Fife, but it has to be considered against the background of planning
He added, The area development committee took the
view that, for reasons relating mainly to transportation, they wished the
application to be continued - and this is quite reasonable. It caused a problem
for the applicants, who were concerned about the time-scale, but it seems to me
the area committee have behaved quite properly in dealing with the
This application raises strategic issues, and it
affects the whole of Fife.
We took the conscious decision that we would enable
the area development committee to take these important planning considerations,
including strategic and local planning issues. I believe we have taken the
opportunity here in Fife to act as one planning authority and give the area
planning committees the responsibility to deal with a construction
Christine May, the administration leader, agreed it was a
matter for the east area development committee. We have, as an
administration, been proud of our decentralisation initiatives. I am sure the
committee will take proper recognition of the concerns raised at their last
meeting. We should allow them to act after a properly debated
East area development committee chairman Peter Douglas
said, Faced with the figures we were given at our last meeting there was
no way we could have allowed it through on the traffic figures.
He suggested the congestion would have strangulated
the town completely. We need some amelioration of the traffic
He added, There are a lot of arguments on both sides,
but the traffic thing is absolutely critical, although the size and site
had also been raised.
Councillor Bill Brand acknowledged, Its a major
problem to try to fit in major projects like this into that sort of
At the suggestion of Councillor Aitken the meeting agreed
to note the letter from the solicitors asking the matter be called
Reaction to the latest twist in the Kingask saga was
The councils move to leave the final decision to the
east area development committee was welcomed by Councillor lain Smith, leader
of the Fife Council Liberal Democrats, who said that common sense had
Mr Smith, who last week urged the council not to call-in
the application, said, Clearly the east area development committee is
best placed to make the correct judgment between the economic advantages and
the environmental impact of this development.
However, St Andrews Preservation Trust chairwoman Dorothea
Morrison said her members remained worried and confused by the
whole episode, and said yesterdays meeting had raised a number of
questions - particularly on the traffic issue.
It was stated today by a council transportation
official that the conference centre at Kingask could reduce traffic
congestion in St Andrews. This would be done by reducing the existing
conference business in the town. They would take it away, which is
worrying, she said.
Also, the developer has apparently said to some
elected councillors over the past few weeks that they are willing to reduce the
size of the conference centre by having only four or five conferences per
annum, claiming there would be less traffic in St Andrews. Yet today we are
told that 80% of business at Kingask will come from conference business.
It all seems contrary to what we have been told.
Mrs Morrison is also mystified by suggestions from the
council that guests would be bussed in from airport and/or rail links and
by-pass St Andrews.
In a statement, the company behind the Kingask plans
- St Andrews Bay Development Ltd - last night said that, through their
professional advisers, they would continue to work closely with the
officials of Fife Council to resolve all outstanding matters related to the
application at Kingask.
When Kingask again comes before the east area
development committee, members will have the choice of accepting, rejecting or
remitting the matter to the central planning committee with a recommendation
It would appear that if the proposals were to go back to
the centre, opponents would have the option of taking action through the
courts, calling for a judicial review, or appealing to the Scottish
St Andrews Community Council vice-chairman Dr Frank Riddell
said of yesterdays decision, We have taken a small step forward but
we are not out of the woods yet. Theres a long long way to go.
The community council will review all of the options
open to it when a decision is taken by the east area development
He said an extra 750 vehicle movements a day along
residential Lamond Drive would be totally unacceptable to all the
people in that part of the town. more
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