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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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St Andrews planning row grows

The Courier, 16 June 1999

On the eve of crucial talks focusing on three multi-million pound golf-related developments around St Andrews, the consortiums behind the controversial projects have come under attack.

They have been accused of exploiting the town’s world-famous name and reputation to turn St Andrews into a golf-related theme park without considering the devastating effect they would have on the mediaeval community and its infrastructure.

Furthermore, Fife Council officials have come under renewed fire over their handling of the projects and procedural moves.

Opposition to the developments - estimated to be valued at almost £400 million and providing some 1000 new jobs - was outlined at a special meeting in the town yesterday.

It was attended by representatives of several of the principal organisations opposed to the plans who claimed that the main attraction to Fife Council in the developments was headline grabbing and job creation.

The local authority is due to hold special departure hearings to discuss the developments around St Andrews, but yesterday objectors labelled the talks “a charade.”

Opponents maintain that the projects would result in traffic chaos in the town; irreparable harm to the town’s setting; increased pressure for housing and further pressure on St Andrews’ already overcrowded secondary school, hospital, health centre and its golf links.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Frank Riddell, chairman of St Andrews Community Council, said, “In our view these developments are monstrous and will turn St Andrews into a golf-related theme park.”

He pointed out that the St Andrews travel-to-work area does not have an unemployment problem and that in reality the new jobs would be created for people in Dundee - the nearest area with substantial unemployment - resulting in increased traffic pressures on the overcrowded town centre.

He explained that the community council and the conservation pressure group, St Andrews Preservation Trust, had both appealed to the new Scottish Secretary, Dr John Reid, to use his powers to call in the three proposals and to have them considered at a public inquiry.

Dr Riddell also made it clear that if their request fails, then consideration would be given to call for a judicial review or the issue could be taken to the Court of Session.

Dr Ian Goudie, community council vice-chairman and convener of its planning committee, added, “Our decision to appeal to the Secretary of State reflects the loss of faith in the town in Fife Council’s decision-making process.”

Dr Goudie was also critical of the local authority’s transportation and planning officials with regard to the Kingask plans.

He pointed out that the St Andrews Transportation Study clearly stated that there was a need to reduce the number of vehicles entering the town - a proposal supported by the transportation service over the last 10 years.

“But, far from deploring the developers’ proposals as contrary to the entire philosophy, they endorsed the plan, while planners equally could find no obstacles to Kingask in the Local Plan, the Structure Plan or the Strategic Study,” he said.

Mrs Dorothea Morrison, chairman of St Andrews Preservation Trust, said that if the Scottish Secretary was “doing his job,” he would see quite clearly the three applications “should be thrown out.”

Referring to St Andrews as “the jewel in the crown” of the Kingdom’s tourism industry - it was worth £52 million to the town’s economy last year - Mrs Morrison added, “It looks like Fife Council is preparing to sell off these jewels very cheaply.

“We are not discouraging tourism, but inappropriate tourism. St Andrews has reached saturation point.”

The Tayside and Fife spokesman for the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, Glen Pride, accused Fife Council of “moving the goalposts” in respect of the applications.

The objectors also point out that with regard to the Kingask scheme, raw sewage from the development would be transported through the town for up to two years until a new sewage scheme was completed by East of Scotland Water.

The local objectors have also been backed by local MP Menzies Campbell and MSP lain Smith, The Association for the Preservation of Rural Scotland, The Scottish Civic Trust, The Garden History Society, the St Andrews Green Belt Forum and The Saltire Society.

The applications for Kingask, Scooniehill and Feddinch involve the development of two 200-bedroom hotels, conference facilities for around 800 people, clubhouses and leisure facilities, a total of five 18-hole golf courses and a nine-hole course, practice facilities and a golf academy, and almost 700 residential timeshare holiday units.

Fife Council took the decision to take consideration of the proposals out of the hands of local councillors on the East Area Development Committee after arguing that there were strategic issues affecting Fife as a whole and not just St Andrews.

In support of the appeal to the Scottish Secretary to call in the applications, objectors list five grounds, including development on prime agricultural land; development involving a significant departure from the structure or local plans; and development affecting scheduled monuments or category A listed buildings or their settings.

They also maintain that the developments are contrary to much of the guidance given by the Scottish Secretary in planning advice concerning golf-related developments and that under the Nolan Committee report it clearly states that the Government should be more ready to use all its powers to call in a major application handled by an authority where, over a period of time, there is substantial public concern over its decision-making processes.

The three applications will be considered by the East Area development committee on June 29 in Cupar before finally being decided at a special meeting of the centraIly-based Fife Council strategic development committee on July 7.

Following yesterday’s talks, Fife Council’s head of planning strongly denied that the applications had already been decided or that there was a need for them to be called in by the Scottish Secretary.

David Rae said, “Far from having been decided, all three of these applications are still under consideration by planners with reports and recommendations still to be prepared for the committees which will decide them.

“Tomorrow’s departure hearing meeting will, in turn, give members of the Strategic Development Committee, who will eventually decide the applications, an opportunity to hear opinions of interested parties before reaching a decision."

The planning chief also expressed “surprise” at the move by local organisations in St Andrews to have the applications called in.

He added, “These objectors claimed that the initial Kingask application could only properly be decided locally by the East Area Development Committee. It is therefore rather surprising that they now feel they are of such national importance, the decision should be made by the Secretary of State.”

Development hearing defended by chairman

The Courier, 16 June 1999

The chairman of Fife Council’s strategic development committee has defended the holding of one departure hearing in St Andrews tomorrow afternoon which will allow objectors to comment on the proposed multi-million pound golf developments for the town.

Councillor Bill Brand said that while the proposals for Kingask, Scooniehill and Feddinch are separate, the council believes they have common local and strategic implications.

As a result, he said, the majority of committee members agreed that one hearing was the best way to “minimise inconvenience” and ensure that the issues are dealt with in a “comprehensive but concise way.”

The comments were made just 24 hours after the four St Andrews councillors launched a scathing attack on the local authority over the timetable for the hearing.

Apart from their concerns that one hearing would not give adequate time for all three developments, they also continue to be angry that the meeting is being staged at a time when many community leaders might be tied up with other business.

Tomorrow’s departure hearing starts at 2 pm in the town hall and is being held for parties who have expressed a wish to address the council about the proposed developments.

The departure hearing will enable members of Fife Council’s strategic development committee to listen to views on the three planning applications - including golf courses, hotels and housing - at Kingask, Scooniehill and Feddinch. It will follow visits to all three sites by the members in the morning.

The applications will then be considered by the council’s east area development committee on June 29 before finally being decided by the strategic development committee on July 7.

Mr Brand said yesterday that such hearings are an essential part of the council’s planning process.

“These three major developments will have far reaching implications, not just for the people of St Andrews and the east area but for the whole of Fife,” he said.

“Members of the strategic development committee will therefore have a very difficult job to do, weighing up the possible economic, employment and tourism benefits of these projects against possible detrimental effects on the local community and environment.

“They could not make these decisions in a well-informed and objective way without first hearing the relevant opinions from people and organisations with an interest in these developments.

“This hearing is therefore not a planning inquiry but an important information-gathering exercise for the committee members.”

Mr Brand said such hearings have proved effective in helping councillors reach decisions on other major planning applications.

He said they are also part of the council's commitment to make sure communities are fully involved in the decisions which will affect them.

Scottish Secretary is urged to get involved

The Courier, 16 June 1999

North-East Fife Liberal Democrat MP Menzies Campbell and his Scottish Parliament contemporary lain Smith have given their backing to St Andrews Community Council, residents and local councillors who want Scottish Secretary John Reid to call in the planning applications for golf developments around the town.

Mr Campbell said, “I have no doubt whatsoever that it is in the public interest for the Secretary of State to call in the three applications for golf-related development around St Andrews. The proposals, both independently and cumulatively, would have significant consequences for St Andrews far into the next century.”

Mr Smith, in a letter to Mr Reid, said, “I can confirm that this is an important local issue and that a large number of people, including local councillors and the community council, quite rightly, want the relevant applications to be called in.”

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