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St Andrews Bay Development (Kingask)
Turbulent Planning Phase - General Comment
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Appeal to Dewar as concern over Kingask deepens

The Courier, 7 July 1999

A firm of independent consultants appointed by Fife Council to look at the landscape implications of major development around St Andrews has claimed there should be changes to the £50 million golf and leisure proposals for Kingask.

The firm, Edinburgh based David Tyldesley Associates, said the effects of the scheme could be reduced by mitigation and changes in design, relocation of parts of the development and scaling down buildings on the site.

The chairman of the east area development committee, Peter Douglas, said these comments were in line with the views already expressed by local councillors who had rejected a similar set of plans for reasons of size and scale.

Another councillor, St Andrews member Frances Melville, said it “beggared belief,” given everything that had been said about Kingask, that the council's head of planning, David Rae, had not included the specific comments in his report.

The statements were highlighted as controversy over the development continued right up to today’s meeting of the council’s strategic development committee in Glenrothes, when a recommendation for approval of the existing Kingask plans will be considered.

In a report to the committee Mr Rae has pointed out that David Tyldesley had been appointed to “ensure that landscape issues are properly and professionally addressed.”

The advice received, he said, had been taken into account in his conclusions.

In a section of the report which deals with visual effects, and effect on the landscape, Mr Tyldesley said the development would have a “significant adverse effect on landscape character” owing to the scale and location of the new development and too-formalised landscape design.

He said the extensive tree planting and ground modelling could be reduced by a different design approach that utilised the character of the open, sweeping coastal hills and terrace rather than attempting to change that character.

“A modified proposal could sustain and even enhance the existing open coastal character and biodiversity of the hills and terrace and the character of the Den.”

On the subject of visual effect, Mr Tyldesley said the golf courses themselves would have a low effect but that large-scale built development away from the existing steading would be incongruous in the open landscape of the coastal hills.

The development, he said, relied on extensive new planting to avoid being very conspicuous within the site and from a few local viewpoints.

Mr Douglas said the comments made by the independent consultant were in line with the earlier decision of the east area development committee to seek a reduction in the size and scale of the Kingask development, and to have it concentrated on the steading which is the subject of outline consent.

He said he was having great difficulty understanding the 'selectivity' in what had been taken out of the Tyldesley report.

Councillor Melville said that very important views expressed by the consultant should have been spelt out in the report. Mr Rae she said, had emphasised that the advise of the independent traffic study had been responsible for comments in his report. The landscape advice, she said, should be treated in the same way.

Yesterday Mr Rae said every effort had been made to make sure that the fullest information possible had been made available so that informed decision-making could take place.

“The consultant’s report has been referred to not only in my report but also in the overview to be discussed In addition to this, every consultant’s report has been available to every member of the east area development committee and the strategic development committee,” said Mr Rae.

“It will be for the committee to use that information and weigh up the pluses and minuses of each application before reaching a final decision tomorrow."

The chairman of St Andrews community council, Dr Frank Riddell, revealed that he has written again to the Scottish Office to express the council’s concern over the entire issue.

He has called on First Minister Donald Dewar to call in major golf and leisure related planning applications for St Andrews, backed by other concerned parties.

Local MP Menzies Campbell, MSP lain Smith and the St Andrews Preservation Trust have all made similar pleas within the last few days.

Dr Riddell said in his letter that it had appeared to the council that the issues surrounding the £50 million Kingask development had been prejudged by Fife Council officials.

There had also, he said, been widespread public unease at the way Fife Council was handling these matters.

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