Developer bids to move former St Andrews cafe and art gallery back to housing

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A cafe just outside of St Andrews could become flats and house of multiple occupation (HMO) if plans are approved.

Birchwood Cottage Gallery and Tearoom just outside of St Andrews could be turned into flats if the plans from new owners at FFR Ltd are approved. The proposals would transform it into three separate flats - including a large HMO unit for up to 12 people.

“The proposed development seeks to return a vacant property into three flatted residential units,” a planning statement explained. “The proposed change of use will return a vacant property back into residential use. [It will also] introduce new higher-occupancy at this location - the current property is vacant and underutilised in proportion to its scale, setting and location.”

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Birchwood Cottage Gallery and Tearoom closed its doors permanently in September 2023. It has been vacant ever since. Prior to the cafe and gallery opening in 2011, the property was formerly used as housing. Developers are arguing that they should be allowed to return the property back to its original use.

Designs for the interior and exterior of the building (Pics: Andrew Allan Architecture)Designs for the interior and exterior of the building (Pics: Andrew Allan Architecture)
Designs for the interior and exterior of the building (Pics: Andrew Allan Architecture)

“The change of use will offer new, high quality living accommodation in this countryside location,” a planning statement said. “The previous owners ran a café and art gallery on the ground level with living accommodation above the commercial premises. The new owners do not plan to continue the commercial use, instead planning to provide a mix of accommodation types to meet the housing needs of professionals, couples, and students.”

They say it will help alleviate pressures in the local housing market by providing more housing for local professionals and students in St Andrews.

“Utilising existing dwellings to intensify the existing use is a sustainable way to meet growing demand for housing, adding options to the local housing market,” a planning statement said.

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“[The proposals will provide] new and additional in-demand property types into a competitive market. This may ease pressures on the existing competition for privately rented accommodation and HMO opportunities within central areas of town.”

The ground level was most recently used as a cafe with an art gallery. Manager’s accommodation was on the first floor above. The new plans would see the property divided up to create three self contained flats. The entire first floor and part of the ground floor would become a large HMO unit with six bedrooms for up to 12 persons sharing as a house in multiple occupation (HMO)

The rest of the ground floor would be split between a two-bedroom flat and a smaller one-bedroom flat. The council will consider the application and make a decision in due course.

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