Flats plan refusal is appealed

The former St Andrews Police Station in North Street.
The former St Andrews Police Station in North Street.

A Scottish Government-appointed Reporter is to consider an appeal against Fife Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the demolition of the former St Andrews police station.

Developers planned to build new apartments at the North Street site, indicating that the layout of the present property and its construction did not lend itself to conversion.

Last August, members of the north east planning committee voted to reject consent - going against the recommendation of planning officials, who suggested conditional approval, subject to referral to Historic Scotland for clearance.

The site had been earmarked for much-needed housing but no provision was made for affordable homes.

Councillors were told the proposal was for 17 flats, split between two blocks, which included floors at basement and attic levels, 14 car parking spaces and small gardens.

The applicants stated at the time: “If the existing building was retained, the inherent design limitations, compromises and costs involved would make development of this site unviable and, on this basis, it is reasonable that the building be replaced with a building more appropriate.

“The redevelopment of the site will allow wider public benefits to flow. A sizeable, affordable housing contribution will be forthcoming and the construction of the new flats will provide welcome local employment in the construction sector still suffering in the economic downturn.”

The plans included 14 underground parking spaces and it was considered by the developers that there would be less traffic generated than the police station.

It was envisaged that some occupants would not require a car parking space, given the town centre location of the new development.

The developers concluded: “The existing police station building is considered to be architecturally unremarkable.

“Historic Scotland, whilst recognising the building is unlisted, are of the opinion that the North Street facade has some historic merit.

“The finalised proposals have been reconsidered and amended in view of the comments received from Historic Scotland.

“The existing stone elements and features to the North Street facade are retained.”

Demolition of the remaining parts of the building and replacement with a “carefully considered” new building were justifiable and “appropriate” for the site.

“The design fits well within the urban context and improves the environmental quality of the surrounding area.”

The applicants added that the proposals were “fully justified” against Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) tests and relevant planning policy.

There were several objections to the proposals, including letters from St Andrews Community Council and St Andrews Preservation Trust. Among the concerns were over-development, ridge heights and insufficient off-street parking.

The Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals has indicated that the Reporter may decide to carry out a site visit before arriving at a decision.