Developer loses appeal to build homes on protected land

New Park Playing Fields in St Andrews.
New Park Playing Fields in St Andrews.

An appeal by the housing developer which wanted to build 41 houses on a protected green space in St Andrews has been dismissed.

Barratt Homes initially lodged a planning application in 2015 for the development of New Park Playing Field next to Canongate but it was turned down last year as it is designated a Protected Open Space, part of the larger green space created by the Lade Braes.

Now a fresh appeal by the company has been turned down by the Scottish Government.

The original application drew a great deal of controversy, with more than 50 objections from the local community, though some highlighted the need for more affordable housing.

One member of the local community who raised an objection to the plans was Penny Uprichard.

“It’s a relief,” she said. “St Andrews has less protected green space than other settlements.

“Plus this development would have been near Lade Braes, so would definitely have an impact on that.

“I think open spaces are very important to the community.

“It seems any open space in town is fair game for development.

“St Andrews is overwhelmed by development.

“The university, Fife Council, and the Scottish Government seem to be forcing more people into the town and it’s crammed.”

St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson said he was surprised that Barratt had chosen to appeal the decision.

“Planning is all about weighing up the pros and cons of development proposals,” he said.

“Whilst the planning application would have delivered some desperately needed affordable housing, housing on the site would be completely contrary to both the current Local Plan and the emerging FIFEplan, which respectively designate the area as protected open space and being within a green network.”

He added: “Given the clear-cut nature of the planning policy position, I was actually surprised that the developer chose to appeal the decision of the North East Planning Committee to refuse the application, and the development plan process has been seen to function as it should.”

A spokesperson for Barratt Developments said: “We are disappointed at the decision to turn down our outline plans.

“We had hoped to provide some much needed homes in an area that is currently out of use.

“Our proposal contained plans to provide around 40 homes and to maintain the natural woodland area surrounding the proposed site.

“As a whole, Fife is currently facing a housing shortfall of over 7000 homes and we were hopeful that these plans would go some way to supporting this issue.

“We do however understand the decision taken and will now review our next steps.”