Exciting plans floated for historic St Andrews Harbour

St Andrews;'St Andrews Harbour'photo; WALTER NEILSON
St Andrews;'St Andrews Harbour'photo; WALTER NEILSON

EXCITING proposals have been unveiled for the mediaeval St Andrews harbour in a move designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and transform it into a vibrant and attractive visitor location.

Behind the major upgrading and refurbishment initiative for the centuries-old port is St Andrews Harbour Trust, which itself has recently undergone constitutional change.

The trust’s vision for the East Sands and harbour area will see it integrated into the town’s future cultural, historic and economic development.

Trust chairman Andrew Lumsden explained that the plans, which are subject to statutory planning processes, will combine mixed-use development, including tourist and leisure uses, with streetscape or layout features and public art.

A key objective of the regeneration programme will be to retain existing public access and safeguard the operational requirements of the working harbour, while acknowledging the sensitivities of its location.

The concept was first created in 1997 by the trust in partnership with Fife Council, Scottish Enterprise, St Andrews Community Council, St Andrews Preservation Trust, St Andrews Sailing Club and Fife Tourist Board. Several improvements have since been made in and around the harbour while, over the last decade, other proposals have been refined to a level where funding is now being sought.

Representatives of the trust, with the assistance of local councillors, are researching funding streams for each of the project phases, which are likely be sourced from local, national and European bodies.

Mr Lumsden told the Citizen:”St Andrews harbour is one of the best kept secrets within North East Fife, with little or no signposting. Easily one of our Kingdom’s jewels, it is regularly enjoyed by only a fraction of locals and visitors.

“It has been identified that this may be due to the need to upgrade the harbour facilities to cater for the needs and expectations of today’s users. Little use is made of the harbour as a gateway to St Andrews for a number of reasons and the trust would like to address these issues and, by doing so, create 21st century facilities while retaining the historic appearance of the harbour and surrounds.”

The proposals will take account of the needs of those who use and visit the harbour - it is category A listed by Historic Scotland - with the introduction of high-quality sector lighting to navigate vessels safely in and out of the port during hours of darkness and poor visibility. Floating pontoons with water and power facilities are proposed for the inner harbour where secure berths will be available for leisure boats and to encourage seafaring visitors to the town. An extension to the quayside, including upgraded slipway facilities, will offer storm shelter for local fishing boats and access to purpose-made vessel repair areas.

Aware of the restrictions presented by the drying harbour, a future proposal may be the introduction of a lock system to replace the current gates and bridge. Designers will be asked to control water levels with the possibility of introducing a flume with power generating facilities for both renewable energy and as an educational experience for local schoolchildren.

The trust believes that its plans will enhance the area, increase visitor numbers and encourage more people to enjoy easier access to water-borne activities.

The proposals will take a number of years to complete and will be dictated by funding availability and statutory approvals and the trust will consult with local organisations and the public.

The scheme coincides with a constitutional change to the trust. It was previously required to appoint eight members, comprising of four local fishermen and four Fife councillors. The constitution has been amended to allow for 12 trustees and its make-up includes a project management consultant, two councillors, a maritime archaeologist, fishermen and local residents.