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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Objectors threaten legal action over £50m hotel plans

The Courier, 6 February 1999

Debate over the £50 million hotel, conference and golf plans for Kingask, near St Andrews, raged on yesterday as councillors prepare to make the final decision over the project.

There was a new turn last night as the possibility was raised of objectors considering legal action in the form of an interdict or judicial review, or even making a direct appeal to the Scottish Secretary.

The latest developments come as it has been revealed that the scale and siting of the project will be unaltered when the matter goes back to members of Fife Council’s East Area development committee next week. In addition, a ‘green traffic plan’ would involve a special fleet of hotel vehicles being used to collect and deliver guests, and shuttle them back and forward to destinations in and around Fife.

Both St Andrews Community Council and St Andrews Preservation Trust yesterday remained firmly opposed to the development, and community council vice chairman Frank Riddell said that the traffic plan proposals being put forward were “unenforcable”.

If conferences started in an evening, for example, he said people would be arriving all through the day and even the next day.

“They will arrive early and they will arrive late. The idea that the hotel will control the times when people will arrive is wrong.”

Dr Riddell said that an attempt was made to compare Kingask with Chateau Elan in Georgia, which is also owned by the developers, but it was understood that this complex lay next to a freeway.

“It is so unlike the situation at Kingask as to make comparisons inappropriate,” he added.

The assertion was made, he said, that at least 70% of all business would be controlled by the traffic management plan, but there had been no justification for this figure.

He went on to say that objecting bodies had options open to them in the form of legal action such as a judicial review, interdict, or a direct appeal to the Scottish Office.

The planning convener of St Andrews Preservation Trust, Elizabeth Williams, said the body was very disappointed over the refusal of the developers to scale down and relocate the hotel complex. This had been one of the main reasons for the application being continued.

“We remain convinced that this will be detrimental to the attractiveness of St Andrews,” she said.

Another consistent critic of the scheme, prospective NE Fife Tory MSP candidate Ted Brocklebank, said yesterday that the developers had failed to address two of the main problem areas - size and scale.

In relation to the proposed green travel plan, he said that it was “spurious and unworkable” and took no account of the activities of thousands of hotel guests, and partners of conference delegates, who would “clearly refuse to be bound by any agreement on their local travel arrangements”.

Mr Brocklebank said that like many other people he did not lightly turn his back on development, and he had believed there had been a real opportunity for the developers to address genuine fears.

“In the event their response has been a shoddy attempt to circumvent the normal planning process to get the result they sought,” he said.

Another local objector, Penny Uprichard, said yesterday that development should never have been considered at all due to its huge size, its conference centre, its incompatibility with the original outline consent and the “dire effect” it would have on traffic.

She also pointed out that other applications for the site were waiting in the wings, and that St Andrews could be faced with 10 years of construction traffic.

Yesterday, however, there was also support for the scheme from the interim chief executive of Fife Chamber of Commerce, Andrew Moore, who said he would like to see the ambitious project go ahead.

If there were problems with roads, he was sure that these would not be insurmountable, and it was his understanding that there would not be “constant streaming traffic going back and forward”.

“The employment and tourism opportunities which would arise from this project would have to be weighed up against any increase in congestion and traffic.

“I think that the developers have gone part of the way to meeting the objections by reducing the size of the proposed hotel. The corporate housing element could be very useful indeed in making contacts overseas.

While accepting that there had been objections from various national bodies, Mr Moore said the matter came down to a question of looking at the pros and cons, and making a decision on that basis.

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