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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Under Siege

Editorial, The Courier, 5 April 1999

St Andrews is a town facing the prospect of three multi-million pound golf-based developments. If all are eventually approved - and that is not a certainty by any means - the influx of seasonal visitors will be driven remorselessly higher.

Some say this would be no bad thing. The local economy cannot afford to ration itself where the world-wide boom in golf is concerned, they argue, and anything that extends the season must be beneficial.

Solve the acute transport problem, perhaps with an outer ring road, and there is much force in the economic argument - providing the town is not overwhelmed by the sheer pace of change.

Of the three contentious plans, that at Kingask has provoked the most bitter condemnation so far. The scaled-down version which has been submitted still runs counter to the wishes of determined objectors.

Projects at Feddinch and Scooniehill come with substantial residential elements as well as driving ranges, spas, conference halls, etc. Land once considered unsuitable for leisure purposes is now eagerly sought; farmhouses are giving way to clubhouses.

Other medieval towns struggle to find the balance between conservation and development but few face such a concentrated onslaught as St Andrews. So far the skyline has not been ruined. Unbridled change has been avoided. Charm has not been driven out.

The magic combination of university, golf and seaside resort is a sensitive mixture. Locals know that, which is why sidelining the area planning committee in favour of a stronger role taken by the central development committee of Fife Council causes unease. The area committee was deemed adequate to approve the North Haugh development at the west end; why not a hotel in the east?

If there is one sure thing it is the backlash that can confidently be expected from residents if their voice is diminished when it should be firmly to the fore over decisions that they will have to live with.

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