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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Anger over St Andrews golf plan moves

The Courier, 30 March 1999

Councillors yesterday narrowly decided to approve a recommendation that major golf and leisure developments planned for the St Andrews area should be decided by a central Fife Council committee.

The 11-9 decision by members of the authority’s strategic development committee immediately ran into an angry response from local groups who are furious at the administration’s handling of the matter [see further coverage here].

It was last night pointed out that the ruling Labour administration had no representation whatsoever in North East Fife, and it was also claimed that assurances from officials over decentralisation had been swept aside.

The issue came before members of the strategic development committee, who decided that the highly controversial new application for Kingask - already thrown out in a similar form locally - should be considered along with the £18 million Scooniehill development and another relating to land at Feddinch.

Until now the Feddinch application has been only talked about, but it has been revealed that plans have just been been lodged with Fife Council for a development by Michael A. Johnston, the man behind the new hotel complex at Carnoustie.

In recent months there have been calls for an overview of the whole subject of pressure from developers for such projects, and these calls were repeated following the recent refusal of the Kingask plans by the east area development committee. This matter is now under appeal.

A previous attempt to have the Kingask application called in to the centre of the council was rejected in what was at the time described as a test for the council’s declared policy of decentralisation.

In his report before the members Mr David Rae, head of planning, said Fife Council had responsibility for both strategic and local planning matters.

In the case of St Andrews there was a strategic interest because there were “multiple planning applications.”

He added, “The fact that we have three planning applications suggests to me we have to form a judgment in terms of what is best in the interests of Fife, St Andrews and the east Fife area."

Mr Rae pointed out, “I believe that although the three applications fall within the one area of Fife, they have implications beyond that that area.”

Referring to his acceptance that decentralisation to local committees was working successfully in planning matters; Mr Rae said that less than one per cent of applications were ever determined “by this committee, and that is the way it should be.”

Councillor Peter Douglas accepted that a huge amount of money was involved, and also a huge amount of potential traffic as well as jobs.

“But our roads infrastructure is not very good, and St Andrews is in danger of coming to a standstill because of traffic, and this is before any of these applications come into being. The traffic situation concerns me very much.

Councillor Douglas conceded, “It’s a complex issue and this committee’s job is to make policy and strategic decisions but it's the local committee who should decide at the end of the day how the matter should he decided.”

Councillor Tony Martin agreed that there needed to be a strategic overview “but local people that are elected in the area should be able to determine decisions for the area.”

He moved that Fife Council should carry out a strategic overview on golf-related developments and produce a policy on golf; and that area development committees be advised of the policy in enabling them to continue to determine decisions locally.

This was seconded by Councillor James Braid.

However, Mr Rae’s recommendations, moved as an amendment by Councillor Helen Eadie, seconded by Councillor Bill Brand, won by 11 votes to 9.

They suggested that the applications for golf-related development in St Andrews be referred to the strategic development committee for decision.

Also, development plan hearings should be arranged as necessary; and if necessary arrangements should be made for a special meeting of the committee to “consider and determine” these applications.

And the east area development committee should be advised of the procedures to be adopted, and invited to give a view on each of the proposals.

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