The start of building the new Madras College at Pipeland has already been delayed by six months as a result of the legal challenge that has been launched.
And Ken Gourlay, Fife Council’s head of asset and facilities management services, said this week that the Council would not purchase the land until the judicial review is complete.
He stated: “Until the land is ours we can’t begin any construction work on the new school.
“At this point this means an estimated delay of six months before we can start on construction.”
Fife Council lawyers have warned that it could be March before a decision on whether to allow the judicial review is announced and that both sides could then appeal the court’s decision.
In its first salvo in defending against the bid for a judicial review of the decision to site the new school at Pipeland, the Council has challenged The St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd (STEPAL) to explain its legal standing.
STEPAL was formed by the school’s former rector Lindsay Matheson along with two former teachers with the sole intention of challenging the decision to site the new school at Pipeland.
In a briefing for councillors, the Council’s legal team says that because STEPAL did not formally object to the planning application – indeed it was not established until after the decision had been made – the Council had called on STEPAL to explain how it has “standing or sufficient interest” to challenge the planning decision.
It is also challenging STEPAL’s move to have its costs limited to £5000. Fife Council says STEPAL has not justified why costs should be limited and has called for justification of a protective expenses order.
Councillor Tim Brett, Liberal Democrat group leader, said that STEPAL’s grounds for the judicial review were based on two points – that the North Haugh would have been a better site for the school and too much weight was placed on “educational” rather than planning reasons.
He added: “It is ironic that the three ex-teachers of Madras should be arguing that too much weight was placed on educational grounds given that they acknowledge that the present facilities are sub-standard.
“I hope this process can be completed as quickly as possible.”