New St Andrews budget hotel compared to a gulag by councillor
A new 57-bed hotel has been approved for St Andrews despite the reservations of some local councillors.
Edinburgh property developer Waverly Tweed says its new hotel - thought to be a Holiday Inn Express - will help to meet a local demand for affordable tourist accommodation, charging between £70-90 a night.
It will sit on the site of the Gardens Mowers and Tools store on Largo Road. The shop has already been granted permission to set up a new unit at Langraw Farm, Feddinch.
While the hotel application was approved by eight votes to five, a handful of elected members were unconvinced of its economic benefit - it may have as few as four members of staff on site at any one time.
Some councillors were also unconvinced of its design despite its similarities to the nearby Premier Inn and M&S Food store.
A total of 45 objections were also submitted by locals and the St Andrews Community Council.
St Andrews Lib Dem Jane Ann Liston branded it "oppressive" for those living next door, while Howe of Fife SNP rep David MacDiarmid compared it to "a gulag or a carbuncle".
MacDiarmid added: "It's just a bunch of square boxes. St Andrews deserves better than this."
While the hotel has 57 rooms, it will have just 50 parking spaces - 23 of those are underground, accessible via a car lift.
Planning chiefs have conceded that this doesn't meet the minimum quota - and that there is no way of getting cars out of the lower level if the lift breaks.
However, Fife Council planning officer Bryan Reid pushed for the plan to be approved on the grounds that there is demand for a "limited service" hotel in the vein of a Holiday Inn Express.
He said: "The proposed hotel would meet an undersupply of tourism accommodation in the town, in accord with the Fife Tourism Strategy. The concerns regarding a lack of need or demand for another hotel in the town are noted but not sustained in this case.
"It is considered that the type of hotel proposed would not draw significant demand away from existing hotels in St Andrews, rather, as evidenced by the recent Premier Inn development, the proposal has the potential to draw more tourists to the town."
East Neuk and Landward Lib Dem Bill Porteous moved approval of the plans, seconded by St Andrews Labour councillor Brian Thomson.
Cllr Porteous said: "I don't think there's more than half a dozen jobs in this, but people [staying in the hotel] will be going out to eat in our cafes and restaurants in the hospitality industry so badly hit by Covid."