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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Golf-related developments row still rumbling

Golfing plan campaign tactics come under fire

Craig Nisbet, The Citizen, 18 June 1999

As plans for golf course developments around St Andrews moved into another formal stage of planning procedure yesterday, the local community council and other opponents fired off their latest salvo at the developers and Fife Council.

However, criticism is now being levelled at them for their attack and even a community councillor has asked whether the council is now being representative of the community it is elected to serve.

Formal Departure Hearings started yesterday to listen to the arguments for developments at Kingask, some three miles south east of the town, Scooniehill, immediately to the south of the town and Feddinch on the south western outskirts.

The findings and summary of these hearings will go to Fife Council’s Strategic Development Committee and be taken on board as they reach a decision.

On Tuesday, St Andrews Community Council - unbeknown to many of its members - called a press conference sharing the stage with St Andrews Preservation Trust and the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. The conference provided a platform to condemn the golf developments and Fife Council for their handling of the applications.

It also provided the opportunity to release details of the Community Council’s approach to the Secretary of State for Scotland asking him to call in the application for determination by the Scottish Office.

Community Council Chairman Dr Frank Riddell said that the council were not anti-golf or anti-development, but he stressed that any development around the town should be in accord with the strategic plans.

On the prospect of employment generated by the new developments, Dr Riddell said that if they all went ahead there could be more than 1000 jobs created. While he agreed that Fife had an unemployment problem, he added that figures for the St Andrews Travel to Work Area showed that it did not. He suggested that because of transport and logistics, most of the jobs would be filled by unemployed people from the Dundee area.

“We believe that jobs should be taken to people and not people to jobs,” he added. Dr Riddell also accused Fife Council of backing the applications to grab “jobs headlines.”

Failing an appeal to the Secretary of State, Dr Rlddell said that there were other avenues of legal action open to the Community Council, including taking the matter to the Court of Session or a judicial revue.

Dr Ian Goudie, chairman of the Community Council’s Planning Committee - speaking about the plans by Fife Council to formulate a strategic overview of all the proposed developments around St Andrews and then take a decision centrally - said: “We have little trust in what Fife Council is doing. We have appealed to the Secretary of State in the hope that the evidence will be properly weighed-up at a public inquiry.”

Speaking on the procedure being adopted by Fife Council to deal with the applications, Dr Riddell said: “It appears to us that the council are rushing these through with unfamiliar haste.”

He described yesterday’s departure hearings as a charade, suggesting that Fife Council had already made up their minds on the plans.

Dr Riddell also announced the launch of a campaign leaflet in the town, a leaflet that many Community Councillors knew nothing of and which has since raised concerns with them.

The leaflet contains a serious of hard-hitting statements, some of which have already been dismissed by developers, and urges the public not to rely on Fife Council, accusing them of showing “tunnel vision” and desperate to get “a headline on new jobs.” It even warns that, in some areas of the town, property prices could be adversely affected because of increased traffic, and claims that raw sewage from Kingask will be shipped through St Andrews for up to two years, despite the fact that a multi-million pound sewage treatment plant is scheduled to be opened between the town and Kingask late next year.

The leaflet has since attracted criticism from various quarters.

One local businessman said that he was “horrified that the Community Council could produce and distribute such a biased, one-sided document when they are supposed to represent the views of the whole of the community.”

Even a member of the community council this week said that he was “no longer sure that the actions of the Community Council were representative of the people of the town.”

Fife Council were quick to react to suggestions that decisions had been taken on any of the plans.

The council’s Head of Planning, 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 committee which will decide them.”

He pointed to yesterday’s departure hearings as an opportunity to hear opinions of interested parties before reaching a decision.

Mr Rae added: “These objectors claimed that the initial Kingask application could only be properly decided locally by the East Area Development Committee.

“It is, therefore, rather surprising that they now feel these applications are of such national importance the decision should be made with the Secretary of State.”

Councillor Bill Brand, the chairman of Fife Council’s Strategic Development Committee, referring to yesterday’s hearings, said: “These three major developments will have far reaching implications, not just for St Andrews and the East Area, but the whole of Fife.

“Members of the Strategic Development Committee, therefore, will 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.”

Current status of the three projects:

KINGASK - plans for a two golf-course development at Kingask between the main St Andrews/Crail Road and the coastline have been on the cards for almost 10 years.

Outline permission for the courses, along with a small hotel, clubhouse and leisure facilities was granted in principle in 1994.

The current plans are for two golf course alongside a much larger hotel than originally envisaged (some 208 bedrooms) and conference centre, clubhouse and leisure facilities.

Developers, St Andrews Bay Development, have already had one plan knocked back by Fife Council and have appealed to the Secretary of State for Scotland, at the same time submitting a further more comprehensive plan for the £50 million scheme.

SCOONIEHILL - a relative newcomer in comparison to Kingask, plans for the Scooniehill Development have been submitted by the St Andrews International Golf Club Ltd. and cover some 500 acres between the Grange Road and Cairnsmill Caravan Park.

Plans include two golf courses, clubhouse and leisure club along with members’ accommodation. Much of the building at Scooniehill is proposed on the sites of existing buildings.

FEDDINCH - the latest arrival on the St Andrews golfing developments scene, but the largest.

Covering some 600 acres the plans, which are still very much in the outline stage, include 600 holiday units, a 150/200 bedroom hotel, 350 conference suites, clubhouse, spa, sports/leisure facilities, a golf course and golf range.

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