Plans for poetry garden in Fife town still going ahead despite delay

Plans to turn derelict land in the heart of St Andrews into a garden cerebrating the town's royal connections are still going ahead.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 11:26 am
The garden on the corner of St Mary's Place and Greyfriars Garden.
The garden on the corner of St Mary's Place and Greyfriars Garden.

The Poets’ Neuk group has submitted an application seeking to renew the planning permission it was granted for the overgrown garden, on the corner of St Mary’s Place and Greyfriars Garden.

Despite the plans being approved several years ago and the Scottish Government granting the group permission to use Community Right to Buy legislation to purchase the land, the land owner has refused to sell.

The group plans to turn the unused land into a public garden which will celebrate the history of the site and its connection to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As part of the plans for the site, the group hope to put up a statue of her in the garden.

The garden would feature poetry by and about the famous figure, who it is thought granted the site to the town on the eve of her abdication.

Poets’ Neuk will shortly be arranging its third AGM, during which members will receive an update on the efforts to turn the derelict land into a public poetry garden.

In 2018, Poets’ Neuk succeeded in its application to the Scottish Government to buy this land under Community Right to Buy legislation. While the Government decision does not oblige the owner to sell, he cannot sell it to anyone other than Poets’ Neuk while the order is in force. So far, the owner has not decided to sell.

The plans for the garden reflect its history as part of the Greyfriars (Franciscan) Monastery in medieval times and its association with Mary, Queen of Scots, who gifted the land to the townspeople of St Andrews on the eve of her abdication in 1567. The Poetry Garden has been designed by internationally renowned architect, Robert Steedman.

David Middleton, secretary of Poets’ Neuk noted that the Community Right to Buy decision lasts for five years and can be renewed at the end of that period. Graham Wynd, chair of Poets’ Neuk, while regretting that the implementation of the project had been delayed, stressed the benefits of the garden project and the resolve to return the land to the community.

“We are in it for the long term,” he said, “and we are determined to spare no effort to meet our objectives”.