St Andrews is set to have a Marks and Spencer Simply Food outlet and a Premier Inn in Largo Road, following the granting of planning permission.
Ashleigh (St Andrews) had applied to Fife Council for the demolition of the now disused abattoir and construction of the food store and 65-room hotel, along with restaurant, bar and associated parking.
Recommending conditional approval, Council case officer Angus Dodds pointed out that the site had been operating as an abattoir since the 1930s.
Mr Dodds said: “The southern part of the site would host the hotel which would be built over three storeys.
“It is proposed that both buildings would be served by a single, shared access from Largo Road that would provide a link to a shared car park at a point approximately halfway along the site.
“In addition to the shared car park, there would be landscaping comprising trees, shrubs and grass, and a proposed ‘signage totem’ placed on the street frontage of the site advertising the site’s occupiers.”
A retail impact assessment concluded that the development of the site would not affect the viability or vitality of St Andrews town centre.
Turning to the principle of a hotel, Mr Dodds said a recent study focused on the perception of St Andrews being overpriced for visitors.
Average room rates in 2011 were £143, with Premier Inn owners, Whitbread, indicating a notional target price of £69 at weekends and £70 during the week.
Fourteen letters of objection were lodged, along with five in support of the plans.
Among the points raised by objectors were the negative impact on other bed and breakfast establishments, insufficient parking and the over-development of a restricted site.
Mr Dodds added: “On balance and taking all relevant matters into consideration, the details of the application are considered to be acceptable and will be beneficial to the town of St Andrews and will create a number of jobs at varying grades.”
The applicants offered the Council a total of £277,000 as compensation for the loss of “employment land,” which the local authority will use to purchase a replacement industrial site in the St Andrews area.
Commenting on the proposed building Councillor David MacDiarmid said: “Is this the best we can build in Scotland?”
He was also concerned that the presence of a low-budget hotel would affect bed and breakfast establishments, who would be offering rooms at a similar price and possibly of better quality.
One of the St Andrews members, Councillor Dorothea Morrison, said opinion was divided in the town about the possible arrival of a Marks and Spencer.
“As someone who does shop in the centre of the town, I feel we have to consider the impact,” she said.
She pointed out that hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners were having a “very difficult life at present”.
Council planning service manager Alastair Hamilton said the design of the development “would sit in quite well” with other buildings in the vicinity, such as the Aldi store and Barnett’s car dealership.
Commenting on the retail impact, Mr Hamilton believed the presence of a Marks and Spencer food store would attract people to the town and enhance footfall.
Local councillor Brian Thomson was told that the compensation figure of £277,000, to be paid to the Council, was based on the area of the site.
Approval was subject to 24 conditions.