Councillors throw out police station plans

Plans to demolish the former police station in North Street, St Andrews, and replace it with flats have been turned down.
Plans to demolish the former police station in North Street, St Andrews, and replace it with flats have been turned down.

Plans to demolish the former St Andrews police station and replace it with two blocks of 17 flats, have been rejected by councillors.

At the North East planning committee on Wednesday members heard the applicant intended to demolish most of the former three-storey North Street building but retain some of the original stonework and Baronial features.

This building would be converted into six storeys of nine flats, comprising a storage/basement area and then five floors, two of which would be at attic level adding 1.6 metres to the ridge height.

The new block to the south would be four storeys and comprise eight flats.

The development would also require significant excavation for an underground parking area for 14 vehicles plus the creation of communal garden ground.

Planning official Chris Smith explained the quality of the design was of a very high standard and the applicant had made several revisions to their plans to accommodate planners’ requests including creating ‘false’ windows so neighbouring properties would not be overlooked.

However, in the lengthy discussion that followed many concerns were raised by councillors particularly relating to the height of the building, the number of flats, parking and the garden space.

St Andrews councillor Dorothea Morrison said she was concerned the development did not include any affordable housing, particularly given that St Andrews has pressurised housing status. She said she felt local people would lose out if the £224,000 which would come from the developer in lieu of meeting the 30% requirement for affordable housing, could go outwith the town.

“These flats are either one bed or two bed, they are not suitable for families which is what we need here in St Andrews. It is overdevelopment and will be cramped with hardly any outside space.”

Councillor Brian Thomson said an earlier Fife Council feasibility study into whether it could have converted the property into flats, had shown it could only properly create 12 properties. Questioning how the developer could create 17 and still meet planning guidelines, he said he believed the application was “too much” and backed a motion by Cupar councillor Karen Marjoram to reject the plan on this basis.

Concerns were also raised about the lack of light for some of the basement properties which would be next to a 5.5m boundary wall.

Mr Smith said the developer required to create 17 flats to make the project financially viable and would only be making a single figure percentage profit.

He also confirmed the former police station is still for sale at offers over £1 million.