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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Disappointment at Kingask development decision

The Courier, 10 February 1999

In the wake of yesterday’s refusal of the £50 million proposals for a new hotel, conference and leisure facility at Kingask, there was a reaction of bitter disappointment from the developers.

In a statement issued shortly after discussion ended in Cupar’s County Buildings, operations director of St Andrews Bay Development, lain MacKinnon said that the applicants were naturally dismayed by the decision of the development committee.

He added, “I should, however, like to place on record our appreciation of the assistance received from Fife Council, and of the professionalism of their officials.”

A similar reaction came from Cupar-based consultants Montgomery Forgan Associates.

One of the firm’s partners, Des Montgomery said that the professional team were most disappointed by the decision.

“We have throughout listened carefully to all the comments made about the original plans, and the revised plans were tailored to meet all reasonable objections to them.

“For the past few months St Andrews Bay’s team of professionals have worked closely with council officials to come up with revised plans.”

It was pointed out that Kingask would have been the first development in Europe by Fountainhead Development, which already has two hotel and golf course developments in the US in Georgia and California.

It had been claimed that the project would have created 500 jobs during the construction phase with 300 full time permanent jobs once the development was operational.

There was also an angry reaction from the SNP’s prospective MSP for North East Fife, Colin Welsh.

Speaking after the meeting he said that the decision was an extremely short-sighted one, not just for St Andrews and the East Neuk but for all those concerned for the future economic development of North East Fife.

Mr Welsh said that committee members appeared to have been influenced by an articulate vocal minority whose primary aim was maintaining St Andrews in a time warp.

He said that his fear was now that future prospective investors would be dissuaded from locating in the area, because of the hostility any change seemed to create.

A completely different reaction, however, came from the chairman of St Andrews Preservation Trust, Dorothea Morrison.

She said that the decision had been a victory for common sense although she was sure that the developers would lodge an appeal with the Scottish Office.

Mrs Morrison added, however, that objectors were prepared to fight all the way and were confident they could win, because right was on their side.

Also celebrating the decision was Ted Brocklebank the prospective Conservative MSP for North East Fife.

“This is an absolutely great result for the town of St Andrews. I thought that the planning committee debated the matter thoroughly and at the end of the day were correct.

“It is a great tragedy that the developers did not try to meet the recommendations of the East Area Development Committee at its last meeting. It could have been so different if they had listened more carefully at that time.”

Dr Frank Riddell, vice chairman of St Andrews Community Council, added, “I am delighted and it makes all the hard work undertaken by our own Community Council Planning Committee all that much more worthwhile.

“A few weeks ago I said that the proposals would be decided on their merits and I am glad that my foresight was correct.”

His views were shared by fellow Community Council vice-chairman Dr Ian Goudie, who is planning convener of the local body.

He said, “I share the delight of my council colleagues at this result. The town owes a great debt of gratitude to our own local members of the East Area Development Committee who stuck to their guns."


Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Fife rejects controversial £50m hotel package

The Courier, 10 February 1999

Highly controversial plans for a £50 million hotel, conference and leisure facility just outside St Andrews were yesterday rejected by North East Fife councillors.

Members of Fife Council’s East Area development committee voted by seven votes to five against the application from St Andrews Bay Development Ltd, having heard committee chairman Peter Douglas state that he was “singularly unhappy” about the whole issue.

The meeting also marked different fortunes from another hotly debated St Andrews project, the Gateway development at North Haugh, which was approved by a majority vote.

During the Kingask discussion, which lasted almost three hours, the chairman directed criticism towards the council’s head of transportation, Alan Bryan, whose comments, he said, had been “weak, woolly and badly presented.”

He also questioned the partiality of reports prepared by planning officials In East Fife, and said, that the documents had given the spin of the bail to the developers on every occasion.

Last night the applicants said that they were “naturally dismayed" by the decision of the committee and would now be meeting their advisers and their planning QC to consider their options.

Operations director lain MacKinnon said the company had been hopeful of approval following "the resolution of traffic issues which had been identified."

The application had met strong opposition from a number of national conservation bodies, local groups such as the community council and preservation trust, and many individuals.

There bad also been support, however, from Fife Enterprise, Fife Chamber of Commerce, a number of departments of Fife Council, and from businesses and individuals.

Last month the committee decided to continue the application for clarification of traffic Issues and to ask the developers to move the hotel to a steading which was originally the subject of outline consent, and scale it down from the 208 bedrooms proposed.

In the meantime St Andrews Bay Development made an unsuccessful attempt to have the matter called before members of the council’s centrally based strategic development committee.

One of the main issues, apart from the scale and impact of the development, related to the effect of extra traffic on the medieval town, and over the last two weeks much greater emphasis had been placed on a “green transportation plan” put forward by the applicants.

It would have involved a special fleet of vehicles transferring the main target market of conference delegates to and from airports and railway stations, and to various destinations in and around the Fife and Tayside area.

In addition there would have been a “financial bond” put up by the developers to help pay for any measures which would have become necessary if the transportation plan ran into difficulty, and on top of all that there was the offer of cash from the developers for road improvement works in St Andrews itself. No moves were made to address the issues of size and location which had been raised by the committee last month.

The plan was met with scepticism by objectors and a number of councillors, and Mr Bryan, who had made a rare appearance in Cupar to recommend approval, appeared uncertain as he gave answers to specific questions raised at the meeting.

During the lengthy debate which surrounded the application councillors spoke both for and against the proposals, with East Neuk councillor James Braid strongly moving approval, and criticising what he called the “head in the sand” attitude of people and organisations in St Andrews.

He was supported by Cupar member Allan Dow, who said that the building was architecturally right, and that approval could be given if there was an assurance that traffic and other matters could be sorted out in a legal agreement.

A telling contribution to the debate, however, came from the committee chairman - also the local member for the application site - who said that he was singularly unhappy about the whole thing.

He said he had hoped when the matter was continued that there would have been convincing answers on the traffic issue, but what had been said at the meeting had only led to further confusion.

Mr Douglas said that he had checked in Edinburgh, and in Germany, where such schemes were being tried. In Edinburgh the scheme was still experimental, and it was a “very different story” in Germany where there was back-up from extremely good rail links.

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