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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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New moves to 'call in' key golf projects

The Courier, 7 June 1999

The Community Council in St Andrews is to be asked to follow the example of the local preservation trust and ask the Scottish Office to “call in” three major golf and leisure developments.

This was made clear at the weekend by the council’s chairman, Dr Frank Riddell, an outspoken critic of the way the “Home of Golf” is being targeted by developers and of the way Fife Council’s administration has dealt with the situation.

The potential investment involved in applications for sites at Kingask, Feddinch and Scooniehill is estimated at well over £200 million and recently the council decided to prepare a 'strategic overview' to set up ground rules and a framework for consideration.

At the same time the Labour administration controversially voted to take final decisions out of the hands of locally-elected East Area councillors.

The move led to speculation by Dr Riddell and others that it was a “ploy” to have the Kingask application approved as quickly as possible.

At the weekend Dr Riddell said there would be a recommendation to this week’s community council that the Scottish Office should be asked to determine the applications.

He said that there had already been comprehensive studies of the St Andrews area, including the recently agreed transportation plan and the St Andrews Strategic Study, and that such documents would form the core of the community council’s case.

If the matter was not taken into the Scottish Office, with all of the issues explored in a full conjoint public inquiry, the final decision would be left in the hands of counclllors who were not locally based, he said.

The fear has been expressed that St Andrews, which is already at bursting point in the summer months, could not cope with the extra traffic generated and that buildings in the town centre would be under threat.

Concern has also been raised over the impact from the three prominent sites on the unspoiled landscape setting around the town.

In addition, the administrators of St Andrews Links have made it clear that play over the Old Course and others beside the town is already at saturation point and that the “carrot” of potential starting times should not be dangled before possible hotel guests or conference delegates.

There have also been clear differences in attitude between council officials who have backed the Kingask scheme and a range of national conservation bodies who have taken a completely different view and have put up a wall of opposition.

One issue in the Kingask case - the only application which has so far been fully explored in the council planning process - is that of coastal planning and associated guidelines.

There was, in fact, a curt exchange between St Andrews councillor Frances Melville and east area planning manager Jim Birrell during public debate of the Kingask plans, when Mrs Melville asked questions about coastal planning issues which had not been referred to in council reports.

Dr Riddell said yesterday that the only fair way forward was for the matter to be dealt with by the Scottish Office.

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