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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Fresh concerns over golf plans

Gordon Berry, The Courier, 16 April 1999

Substantial hotel and leisure developments around St Andrews could pre-empt both the structural plan review and proposals for the setting up of a designated green belt.

This was claimed yesterday by North East Fife MP Menzies Campbell as he re-entered the furious debate raging in north-east Fife over a series of major planning applications.

Since the first ripples appeared, with the submission of plans for an extensive 208-bedroom hotel and conference facility at Kingask, there has been an application or land at Scooniehill, and yet another for a huge development at Feddinch. All three applications also include provision of golf courses.

Fife Council has controversially decided to take the final decision out of the hands of locally-elected councillors. This move might yet be challenged - at least in the case of Kingask - in an approach to the Scottish Secretary by local bodies.

Mr Campbell has already drawn attention to his fear that the St Andrews area could turned into a “gigantic theme park,” and yesterday he revealed he had again written to Fife Council’s outgoing chief executive Dr John Markland.

Dr Markland’s top officials have infuriated groups in St Andrews by strongly backing the Kingask proposals in the run-up to their rejection by councillors in north-east Fife.

Ironically, he will soon be taking up the position of chairman of one of the main objectors to Kingask, conservation body Scottish Natural Heritage.

In his letter, Mr Campbell questioned the wisdom of the call-in decisions, saying no strategic consideration of any application could take place without it being placed in a proper strategic context.

He went on to suggest one possible outcome if one or more of the applications was approved - the case for a relief road being accepted due to actual, or potential, traffic generation.

If developers offered such a road as an inducement in the form of “planning gain,” or if the council was persuaded to make the necessary investment, he said, then the delineation of the green belt would be dictated not by objective considerations, but as a consequence of the granting of planning permission.

“This would be what is known as ‘planning by permission,’ which the structure plan was designed to eliminate,” he adds.

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