An angry row has erupted over the handling by Fife Council of a planning application by a St Andrews hotel to erect a pergola in its beer garden.
St Andrews Community Council has expressed “serious concerns” over the issue and has now written to the local authority.
The controversy centres on the installation of the pergola - branded “a shed” by local conservationists - in the garden to the rear of the West Port Hotel in the town centre.
The chairman of the community organisation, Kyffin Roberts, said that the application was approved by a council official under delegated powers - despite the existence of an objection from St Andrews Preservation Trust, the failure to apply for Listed Building Consent and the fact that a neighbour had not received notification and had no opportunity to lodge a representation.
Mr Roberts said: ”It appears that the information which accompanied the planning application was misleading in that the photograph accompanying it depicted a pergola unit which did not represent the one which was then installed. The unit which is now in position has metal supports and an electric sliding roof and is higher than the joint wall between the hotel and the neighbouring house.”
The community council maintains that the unit is “clearly unsuitable” for the outstanding conservation area.
Mr Roberts added: ”It is difficult to understand how it could have been given planning permission on the grounds, among others, that it ‘...would not cause any detrimental impacts....’”
In the letter to Keith Winter, head of enterprise, planning and protective services, Mr Roberts notes that the application for licensing permission, which is outstanding, states that ‘the proposal to erect a pergola....is not considered to raise any additional amenity issues’ and ....’it is not considered necessary to impose any conditions relating to hours of opening.’
He concluded: ”We hope that the application will be refused. The community council planning committee considers that the way in which this matter has been dealt with shows a total lack of concern for residents and the conservation area.
“It also raises serious doubts about compliance with planning procedures in enterprise, planning and protective services.”
The conservation pressure group, St Andrews Preservation Trust, objected to the design of what they labelled as ‘this outdoor shelter.’
A spokesperson said:”It is not a pergola, which would have open trellis work or wooden joists to support plants, but is really an outdoor shed without walls and is far too dominant in the hotel garden, taking up most of the available space.”