PROPOSALS to transform an eyesore in the centre of St Andrews into a community garden have been unveiled.
The conservation pressure group, St Andrews Preservation Trust Ltd, is seeking planning permission in principle for a project to convert the overgrown parcel of land at 1 Greyfriars Garden into a public open space.
The small piece of ground, which was part of the historic site of Greyfriars Chapel - it is understood to be owned at present by a Perthshire man - is derelict and regarded as a blot on the landscape in the heart of the university town’s conservation area.
A spokesman for the trust told the Citizen that the area was given to the people of St Andrews by Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1567 and remained in the town’s possession until 1841.
He added: ”Some ground was then sold for housing and the street Greyfriars Garden was formed and named after the Franciscan monastery that had previously been there.”
The sadly neglected site at the corner of Greyfriars Garden and St Mary’s Place is littered with debris, including empty bottles, tins and other rubbish.
As a community garden, it would be open to the public and managed by the trust and incorporate seating, paved areas, grass, rose beds, poetry plaques and a life size statue of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The spokesman said: ”Unfortunately, and contrary to some misconceptions, ownership of the garden has never been in the hands of the trust, despite efforts over a number of years by it and St Andrews Community Council.
“Fresh attempts will be made to acquire it. It is hoped that obtaining planning permission will be the first step in what may be a lengthy but laudable process to transform a long-standing, derelict eyesore into a community asset.”
The garden has been the subject of concern since the mid-1990s and has had a number of previous owners.
St Andrews Community Council has made numerous attempts over the years to have it cleared and converted into a community garden, but all its efforts proved unsuccessful.
Previously, local Fife Councillor Bill Sangster helped maintain the site for several years during which time he was assisted on one occasion by pupils from Madras College in a joint project. However, most of his work was in vain after the then owner leased it to a private company during a golf tournament and all the plants and shrubs were trampled and ruined.
Last year an application by the site owner for planning permission to erect a 500mm high timber fence and cast iron railings was refused by the north eeast Fife area committee. It would have replaced a green plastic mesh fence intended to help screen the garden from public view - but which itself was unsightly and drew strong criticism.