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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Kingask: mixed reaction to refusal

The Citizen, 12 February 1999

St Andrews Community Council

Dr Frank Riddell, vice-chairman, said afterwards: ‘In recent letters concerning the Kingask development, I said that the Community Council had “faith that the decision will be taken on the facts and merits of the case and on no other basis.”

“Thank goodness that the councillors who represent us have had the courage to do just that.

“Commonsense has spoken rather than megabucks.

“A watershed in planning for St Andrews has been negotiated successfully. The views of the town as expressed through its Community Council, have been upheld.

“Thanks to the actions of the councillors, the policy documents that defend St Andrews from such unwanted intrusions are still in place. We still have the St Andrews Strategic Study, the St Andrews Landscape Assessment, the Traffic Management Plan and the Fife Council’s own policies for town centres intact to defend our town against the developers.

“Local government depends crucially upon officials who can be relied upon and councillors who can keep them in check. It is the supreme justification of British democratic processes that our councillors said NO!

“This decision will be unwelcome in Chateau Elan in Georgia. Dr Panoz and his cronies have to learn the hard lesson that what can be done there, by whatever means - and they tried most of them - is not possible here.

“I’m gobsmacked that we won. The hard work of Ian Goudie, myself and the Community Council Planning Committee has paid off and we still have the means in place to defend the environment of our beautiful town.”

St Andrews Preservation Trust

St Andrews Preservation Trust said they were “delighted” at the news of the council’s decision not to give the Kingask project the go-ahead.

The society’s Chair, Ms Dorothea Morrison, said that acceptance of the developer’s proposal had hinged on the viability of their traffic scheme.

St Andrews Bay Development Ltd had failed to convince Fife Council that their “green” traffic plan was a workable option for St Andrews and the proposal had been refused.

She said the Preservation Trust had said from the start that the increased volume of traffic generated by the Kingask development would be too much for St Andrews and would “strangle” the town.

She expressed regret that the developers had not taken the opportunity three weeks ago to reduce the size of the planned complex to that of a small country hotel which St Andrews would be better able to sustain and accommodate and which might have stood a better chance of being accepted.

Ms Morrison emphasised that the Preservation Trust was not against “development” on principle.

What they wanted was development appropriate to, and beneficial for, the town.

She concluded that, if the developers were wise, they would give up now.

Ted Brocklebank, prospective Conservative MSP for NE Fife

Ted Brocklebank, an outspoken opponent of the plans, said: “This was a historic decision for St Andrews.

“The real implications of the East Area Planning Board’s rejection of this development go far beyond Kingask. This sends a message to every other speculative developer that St Andrews is not up for grabs.

“As residents will discover in the weeks ahead, there are a number of major proposals in the pipeline for the town. Some could be to the benefit of St Andrews. Others might seriously damage our unique landscape setting and should be rejected.

“Prospective developers must learn that they need St Andrews far more than St Andrews needs them. We, the people who live and work here, are in a position to shape the way this unique and ancient town develops. We are the custodians of a remarkable heritage in St Andrews and should make our views crystal clear about the kind of town we want to leave for our children and grandchildren.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Kingask was rejected on the strength of the arguments against it. The proposal simply did not make sense on its size, scale, siting or timing.

“The tragedy for the developers is that they pressed ahead with their grandiose plans despite numerous opportunities to accommodate the concerns and aspirations of those with the true interests of St Andrews at heart. I am not opposed to the right kind of developments or, indeed, more golf courses. While this proposal may have fallen, I believe Kingask could yet be the location for a suitably-sited hotel and golf complex.

“But let no developer insult the intelligence of the people of St Andrews or seek to bulldoze us into a wrong decision on the basis of a few hundred lowly-paid jobs. What we have to lose here is far more important than this kind of fool’s gold, and developers should take note.”

SNP in NE Fife

The SNP’s prospective MSP for North East Fife, Colin Welsh, reacted with dismay at the East Area Development Committee’s decision.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Welsh said: “This is an extremely short-sighted decision, not just for St Andrews and the East Neuk, but for all those that are concerned for economic development and job creation in North East Fife.

“Committee members appear to have been influenced by an articulate vocal minority whose primary aim is to maintain St Andrews in a timewarp rather than listening to those who wish to see sustainable economic growth.

“My fear is that any future potential investors will now be dissuaded from locating in this area because of the hostility any change seems to create.

“It is crucially important that all those who have contributed both in the arguments for and against Kingask engage in a debate on how best to secure the economic viability of St Andrews and the wider locality.

“The forthcoming council and Scottish elections will provide an ideal opportunity to promote positive ideas and thoughts on this issue.”

Local opinion

Perhaps it was getting close to tea time, or maybe it was too cold to linger, but considering the storm of protest the Kingask development has provoked since its inception many months ago, the reaction of the St Andrews townspeople to the council’s decision not to give developers the go-ahead was distinctly muted.

However, a general low-key relief was evident among local residents I spoke to that the planned development at Kingask had been halted - for the moment at least.

I couldn’t help but note that most of those who expressed relief at the plans being thrown out were of more mature years, and I wondered if the ambivalence expressed by the younger citizens of St Andrews could be put down to genuine apathy or the knowledge that a large, modern business development which might provide jobs and opportunities and alter the “olde worlde” nature of the town, had been quashed.

A couple of middle-aged men, who again did not want to be named (why not?) expressed regret at the plan’s failure to be accepted, which they both said represented a loss to the town with regards to possible employment prospects.

When I asked if they ever played the glorious game, one gave me an enigmatic smile which led me to wonder if this lost employment opportunity regret might be golf-tinged!

I tried to tap into the body of student opinion but was met with apologetic smiles and blank frowns - clearly the pros and cons of the Kingask project were not a hot topic of conversation in the Student’s Union.

Among those who actually recognised the name Kingask, and had been following the development of the development (so to speak), the general feeling was that the town had been granted a reprieve from an ill-considered idea much too large for it to cope with.

A distinct gender split was in evidence, with more women expressing relief at the decision while men displaying an ambivalence, glad that this particular project had been rejected but regretful that a business venture had been lost which could have brought new blood into the town.

However, while the mood in St Andrews is of quiet triumph, the Kingask Project is far from dead.

The developers, St Andrews Bay Development Ltd., are currently considering “all their options.”

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