It’s a big no to big plans for St Andrews

The former police station in St Andrews' North Street continues to lie empty as development proposals are rejected.
The former police station in St Andrews' North Street continues to lie empty as development proposals are rejected.

Plans for two major developments in St Andrews have been thrown out by the Scottish Government.

Appeals were launched against Fife Council’s refusal of plans for a visitor centre at West Sands and the development of flats in North Street.

But this week the Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) reporter rejected both appeals.

The decision means that a £1.5 million investment in visitor facilities for the town will be lost, despite DPEA reporter Sinead Lynch commenting: “I agree with all parties that the current facilities at West Sands are outdated and of poor quality in terms of their structural integrity and appearance.”

But she concluded: “The impact of the design, scale and massing of the proposed visitor centre building would harm the visual and landscape amenity of the surroundings to an unacceptable degree.

“Given the unique significance of the location, these shortcomings are of overriding importance, so that overall, I am satisfied the proposal does not accord with the development plan.”

The proposal was put forward by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust and its chief executive Amanda McFarlane was clearly disappointed.

“We still believe that an iconic site such as the West Sands should have the best possible facilities,” she said. “It is regrettable that the vision created by the trust and the architects could not be brought to fruition for the benefit of the local community and visitors to the area.”

Plans for two blocks of flats on the site of the former police station in North Street were also rejected by Ms Lynch.

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.

Ms Lynch concluded that while one of the two blocks was acceptable the “scale and massing of the proposed southern building would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area to an unacceptable degree.”

She also reflected the concerns of objectors to the proposal by highlighting the impact of the windows in the development on neighbouring buildings.

St Andrews Community Council and St Andrews Preservation Trust were amongst the objectors to the proposal raising concerns about over-development.