Councillor’s fears that ‘well funded people’ will block Madras plans

Supporters of Pipeland for the new Madras College
Supporters of Pipeland for the new Madras College

At the Fife Council exectutive committee meeting on Tuesday, there was general agreement that everything should be done to get a new Madras College under way, but Fife councillor Brian Thomson raised fears that progress could be blocked.

The council’s executive committee met on Tuesday to decide its next move following an appeal court judgement earlier this year that quashed the decision taken in May 2014 by the full council to grant planning permission in principle for a new school at Pipeland on the outskirts of St Andrews.

St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson looks at plans for the new Madras College at the Pipeland Farm site.

St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson looks at plans for the new Madras College at the Pipeland Farm site.

Although the council – as planning authority – decided not to appeal the court’s latest decision, the education and children’s services directorate – the applicant – had indicated it wanted the planning application to be reconsidered.

So as part of the reconsideration process, possible alternative locations will be examined.

But Cllr Thomson said: “There is a long track record of much needed facilities in St Andrews being delayed, and there’s the continued risk that a small group of apparently well funded people – who oppose almost any new significant development within St Andrews – will seek to block or delay the construction of any new-build school in the town.”

Parent Voice welcomed any action to meet the requirements of the planning process, adding: “The key requirement is the ability to deliver the desperately needed school as soon as possible. Two years have been lost since approval was achieved due to STEPAL’s law suit.”

Campaigning group STEPAL (the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association) described the plan to reassess all sites for Madras as “encouraging” adding: “It seems that both STEPAL and Parent Voice are now agreed on two of the essential aspects: the urgent need for a replacement school, and the need for our council to undertake a robust site-selection process.”