Angry architect hits back at council report

Artist's impression of West Sands visitor centre.
Artist's impression of West Sands visitor centre.

The architect leading the design of the planned visitor centre at St Andrews’ West Sands has responded angrily to the objections to the development.

Tom Morton of Cupar-based architects Arc has sent a series of letters to Fife Council with detailed responses to the technical concerns raised over the development.

But he saves his most withering criticism for Fife Council’s own Enterprise, Planning and Protective Services.

The built heritage section of the department has said that it would be preferable to replace the existing buildings at the site with a development of a similar scale.

But Mr Morton has told the Council: “The assessment for heritage impacts does not present a fully-informed or well-considered assessment of the development’s impact and it contains technical inaccuracies and misleading presentation.”

He reiterates: “We understand that the site is sensitive and that consideration of setting is always to come extent subjective, but we do not feel the current assessment is a robust basis for a planning decision.”

Mr Morton also questions the suitability of the officer who penned the report: “It would be sensible if the document detailed who wrote it and in what capacity. Indeed as the design was prepared by an ‘Advanced’ lever RIAS Conservation Accredited and Landscape Architects, it would be helpful to know the landscape conservation qualifications of the officer who prepared the report and the experience of landscape assessments on which it is based.”

He goes on to tackle issues raised by the Council point by point, including what he believes is an implication that previous development is a factor against the proposal: “I would suggest it is more appropriate to consider this application on its own merits, rather than as a basis to comment on previous developments in the area that received consent.”

Plans for a string of wind turbines to power the centre have already been withdrawn from the application following a raft of objections.

Mary Stewart, service manager, said: “It’s important to remember no final decision has been taken on this application and that individual consultation response like this one aren’t considered in isolation.

“This is only one of many consultation responses that the case officer takes into account to arrive at a balanced recommendation to the north east Fife planning committee.”