£12m upgrade approved for St Andrews Students’ Union

St Andrews Student Union could be in line for a major revamp.
St Andrews Student Union could be in line for a major revamp.

St Andrews Students’ Union in St Mary’s Place is to undergo a complete revamp.

Fife Council have approved plans which will see the university building benefiting from an upgrade costing up to £12m.

A report before councillors described the current concrete building as having a “1970s brutalist appearance” and a previous appraisal described it as “entirely unsympathetic to the character of the historic environment”.

The changes will include external alterations on the southern facing street elevation; the building of a single storey shop in place of the existing bin store; new landscaping and street furniture; a reduction of car parking spaces and new signs at the front and side of the building.

There had been plans for coloured windows at the front of the new structure but this was rejected as specific details were not included in the application.

President of the Students’ Association, Freddie fforde, said he welcomed the decision to give the project the green light.

He told the Citizen: “The redevelopment of the union will finally allow our creaking facility to furnish the resources we need to operate the hundreds of student activities that find their home in the building.

“The willingness of the university to invest in student activity also sends a strong message to the best candidates - both home and abroad - that St Andrews continues to be one of the best places to work, live and study.

“I’d also like to put behind us the concerns that have been expressed over the design of the refurbished building.

“It’s important for us to appreciate and respect the town that we live in, while also working towards a compromise that meets the needs of the thousands of students who also call St Andrews home.

“This year the Association will be making a concerted effort to engage with the local community. I will always encourage any resident to write to me personally and expect a prompt response.”

A spokesman for the university also welcomed the granting of planning permission.

He said: “We’re very pleased to have obtained planning permission and have long been committed to improving this important building.

‘‘The Union should be a central part of the St Andrews experience and match the high standards we achieve in so many other areas of university life.

“The university has to be extremely careful about the way it spends and commits money in this challenging and volatile economic climate, but the Union has long been a priority for us and moving to secure planning permission is a firm indication of our commitment to this project.”

As well as refusing permission to use coloured windows in the new building, a number of other conditions were also imposed.

The bus stop in St Mary’s Place will be moved before work begins and public access will continue to be available along the right of way to the west of the building during construction.