Campaigners for the new Madras College may have to wait another four weeks to hear whether the Scottish Government will call in the planning application for the new school at Pipeland.
A letter from the Government to Fife Council this week said that it had not been possible to reach a decision on the case so Ministers had decided to extend the period for their consideration by up to four weeks.
Pipeland supporters and opposition said the delay was acceptable if it meant rigorous decision making.
Lindsay Matheson, chairman of the North Haugh group, regarded the delay as “entirely understandable in the context of the many local and Scottish planning policies which would be breached if this application was approved. With sensible decision-making a much better outcome can be achieved.” And Parent Voice’s Chris Wallard said that his group fully supported the need for the process to be conducted thoroughly but urged ministers to be mindful of the consequences of delay for the young people of this area.
But there the two sides parted company once again.
The North Haugh group remain convinced that Pipeland is not the place for the new college. Mr Matheson wanted to see the application called in: “This would allow the Pipeland proposal to be considered in an objective way and assessed against the policies which govern planning which are all about locating the development in the right place.
“The North Haugh Group has a membership of educationalists and others with a commitment to securing the best future for secondary education in north east Fife. We believe that our children and young people are being short-changed by the Pipeland proposal.”
Mr Wallard emphasised the presssing need for a new school.
He said: “Pipeland as a location has the overwhelming support of both the community and the councillors. The only remaining issue is that of the greenbelt. It should never be used to suffocate a living, vibrant town by forcing us to live in a dusty museum or a cultural cul-de-sac.
“It’s a school we are building, not a prison or executive homes,” he added.
Fife councillor Bryan Poole also understood the delay. He said: “This is a complex and controversial application which has created a vast amount of correspondence and feedback both in favour and against the proposal. It is only right therefore that Ministers give this due consideration.”
But he stressed: “It is Fife Council’s view that there is no alternative suitable site for a new Madras.
“However, the children of St Andrews and north east Fife have been waiting for a replacement for Madras for far too long and I would hope that the process would not be delayed beyond June 5. Every day of delay on this issue has a negative impact on the educational opportunities of young people in the Madras catchment area.
The Scottish Government was tight-lipped about the move saying in a statement only “Ministers extended their consideration period of this case today and will issue their decision on whether or not they will intervene in the processing of the application in due course. This procedure allows Ministers the opportunity to consider whether the proposed development raises issues of national significance that would warrant the application being called in for their determination.”