St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Issues raised during turbulent planning phase
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Golf development debate moves into final stages
The Courier, 29 June 1999
Weeks of often bitter debate over whether or not the
world-famous Home of Golf should become the focus of multi-million hotel and
leisure developments will enter its closing stages today.
Councillors will have to balance the promise of hundreds of
jobs, lengthening of the visitor season and injection of many millions of
pounds and dollars into the local economy against the widespread feeling of
conservation bodies and objectors that large-scale development could ruin the
towns unique setting and strangle its medieval centre through increased
Today members of Fife Councils east area development
committee will gather in Cupars County Buildings to formulate a view on
two plans - the £50 million scheme at Kingask and the smaller but
still extensive £18 million Scooniehill development.
Plans for a third venture, a huge golf and holiday home
venture at Feddinch, were surprisingly withdrawn at the weekend by Dundee-based
business man Michael Johnston, although he indicated that he still hoped to go
ahead in the future.
Even on the eve of todays meeting it was made clear
that St Andrews Community Council has written once more to Fifes head of
planning to question several matters.
In addition the chairman of the east area development
committee, Councillor Peter Douglas, has expressed the view that withdrawal of
the Feddinch plans has put an entirely different complexion on the
multiple application scenario used to help Fife Council to justify
its controversial move to call-in the final decision to the central
strategic development committee.
Today councillors will have be fore them a strategic
overview and a report on the relative merits of the applications. The reports
were prepared when all were still they rule out both Feddinch and Scooniehill
Both the strategic overview and the report on the
applications express a preference for the Kingask application. This
involves a site that already has outline consent for a hotel and two golf
The scale of the development has now gone well beyond
what was originally envisaged and building is no longer to be concentrated on
the footprint of steading buildings.
The decision to call in the applications and prepare the
overview was taken in the wake of the east area development committees
decision to go against the recommendation of area planning manager Jim Birrell
for approval of the Kingask scheme.
That decision was followed by criticism from Fife
administration councillors supportive of the Kingask plans.
The question was even asked, and vehemently denied, if the
vote in east Fife had been rigged before the meeting. The committee chairman
was also unsuccessfully invited to consider his position on the area tourist
East area councillors will not be allowed to make any
decisions on the matter but their views will passed to next weeks meeting
of the strategic development committee in Glenrothes.
In making their decisions, councillors will have access to
independent reports prepared by landscape and traffic consultants and a wide
range of objections and letters of support.
In relation to Kingask there are 269 objections and
47 letters of support, with Scooniehill attracting 71 objections and three
letters of support.
It was also made clear yesterday that St Andrews Community
Council chairman Dr Frank Riddell has written once more to the councils
head of planning, David Rae.
Yesterday Dr Riddell said he had pointed out that the
original outline consent for Kingask made no mention of ancillary
facilities and there was no way that anything in that consent could
be construed as a conference centre.
Dr Riddell said he had also stated in the letter that Mr
Rae had not given due weight to comments from Historic ScotIand, and had only
quoted comments favourable to Kingask.
Last night the councillor who will chair todays
meeting and whose ward includes both sites - Peter Douglas - said that
councillors had been told repeatedly that they must follow structure plans, and
guidance given by Fife Council, but it appeared that they were being asked to
Mr Douglas also said that at the preamble of the last
strategic development meeting, Mr Rae had claimed that he had never had any
doubt that Kingask should decided locally. The matter had, said Mr Rae,
become a strategic one because of multiple applications.
I am not sure that there are multiple applications
any more. The ball park has changed again, said Mr DougIas.
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