New report criticises St Andrews hotel and student accommodation plans

The proposed development at Abbey Park.
The proposed development at Abbey Park.

A new report has delivered a scathing verdict of plans to build a new 100-bedroom hotel and student accommodation at Abbey Park.

The report, commissioned by the Abbey Park Residents’ Action Group, was conducted by Austin-Smith: Lord, which set out the design standard that guided the redevelopment of the brownfield site at St Leonards.

In a list of criticisms the report claims that the application represents overdevelopment within the conservation area, the architectural language proposed is not in keeping with the surrounding buildings in the conservation area, and the applicant has not resolved the access issue related to the access point on Abbey Walk.

It also criticises the design of the buildings, describing it as “characterless”.

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The report concludes that consent for the proposal should be rejected unless a significant reduction in the scale of the development is proposed with changes to the style and selection of materials.

Sandra Stewart, the communications officer of the Abbey Park Residents’ Action Group, said: “This is surely a game-changer for Fife Council in their consideration of this much-criticised planning application.

“If the firm which achieved the successful delivery of the Strategic Development Framework for the whole St Leonards site is now saying that ‘economic gain has overridden sensible and intelligent responses to the site’s requirements and constraints’ then surely this application is holed below the water line.”

Katherine MacKintosh, managing director, Robertson Property, said: “The delivery of new student accommodation and a new hotel is the final piece in the jigsaw for the housing led redevelopment of the Abbey Park site. We have had positive dialogue throughout the planning process with Fife Council and have diligently fulfilled our obligations under the Strategic Development Framework and FIFEplan. We have also openly engaged with the near neighbours and the wider local community.

“Following the pre-application consultation in October 2017, the proposed scheme was amended to take account of residents’ views including the relocation of the student accommodation and introduction of a large public space between the proposed buildings and Orchard Row together with enhanced landscaping. We await the determination of the planning application in early course.”

It is expected that a decision will be made later this month.