Luxury flats plan for B-listed former Fife hospital get go-ahead from council
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Councillors gave the go-ahead at Fife Council’s North East Planning Committee on Wednesday. They all wanted to see the B-listed mansion restored, but expressed concerns about the “enabling” housing development to offset restoration costs.
Dundee’s Greystone Estates LTD received planning permission to restore the old maternity hospital and transform it into 27 luxury flats. However, in order to see the old mansion restored, the committee also had to accept an “enabling development” of 18 townhouses on the surrounding land.
A report to the committee said. “In an ideal scenario, no enabling development would be required within the grounds of the building. However, it has been demonstrated that the proposed level of enabling development is the minimum amount required to cross-fund the restoration,”
Built in 1903, Craigtoun mansion was originally a family estate known as Mount Melville House. Fife Council bought the property in 1947 and the mansion became a hospital until 1992 when it was sold alongside 330 acres of parkland to the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews who developed the Dukes Golf Course in the west park. Since then, the mansion has lain empty and slowly slipped into disrepair. It is currently categorised as being in “poor” condition and deemed a “moderate” risk on the Buildings at Risk register.
A detailed building condition survey said the external fabric is “generally poor" and noted “the continued degradation” of external features such as roof coverings, masonry joints and dormers. Internally, a section of the floor and ceiling on the south elevation has collapsed. Water pouring in is resulting in the loss of plasterwork - especially in the upper rooms. The survey also indicates that “dry rot outbreaks are worsening and will continue to exacerbate the rate of intervention required.”
Councillor David MacDiarmid (SNP for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast) has a personal connection to the old hospital as it is where his wife was born.
“This building is very close to my heart. Any time I’ve visited it breaks my heart that it was allowed to get into this condition," he said. "Now, I feel like we’re held for ransom by developers. We’re being told the building won’t get renovated unless we allow these contemporary houses that to me look architecturally suspect.”
However, planning officers highlighted that Craigtoun mansion has not had a meaningful planning application for many years.
“We’ve waited 25 years to see a serious plan for this building come forward. I would suggest that if we wait another 25 years, the next application we see will be for demolition,” a planning officer said.
The planning report agreed that the current proposals are “the only means of preventing the loss of the asset.”
“Were this a straightforward application for a housing development in the countryside it would likely be refused, but the significant consideration in this case is the restoration of the listed building,” officers told the committee on Wednesday. “I would reiterate the word ‘balance’ for this application. It’s not a perfect proposal but in order to realise the restoration it has been recommended for approval.”
The application includes the loss of 11 trees - including a category A listed tree - to make way for the 18 townhouses. Fife Council’s education team has also raised capacity issues at both Madras College and Lawhead Primary School.
The capacity issue at Madras is critical, and problems are expected within the next two years. Lawhead Primary School has capacity issues on the horizon, but is not yet critical. As a result of these concerns, the developers will be required to pay a financial contribution of £145,345 to mitigate the impact on local school infrastructure.
Very little will change externally for the former hospital. Developers intend to make much needed stonework repairs and replacement windows and roof coverings.
Internally, the company intends to retain as many of the building’s historic features as possible. These include a grand staircase connecting all three storeys, the top floor of which provides views over St Andrews.
The plans will require the demolition of two ancillary buildings on the Craigtoun grounds. The outbuildings are proposed for demolition in order to create space for the enabling new build development. Neither outbuilding has particular historical or cultural significance aside from their association with the former hospital and Craigtoun grounds.