By a margin of 9:3, Fife Council’s North East Panning Committee voted to grant outline approval for the western extension to the town, despite hearing concerns from objectors, including the St Andrews Community Council, about the impact on the road network, views towards the historic skyline and on wildlife in the North Haugh.
Approximately 1,500 houses and flats will be built in the St Andrews West expansion zone, including 30% affordable housing. Some 370 homes at Craigtoun North were approved last year and a further 900 were approved on Wednesday (29th).
Plans by the St Andrews West LLP consortium also include developments for the University and employment use, a care home and sheltered housing and a civic centre with shops and a hotel. Residential development will be focused in the south, west and central areas, with the care home and sheltered housing in the centre. Most of the North Haugh will be retained as open space with an arboretum.
Detailed planning applications will be submitted for individual zones within the 90-hectare site.
Councillor David McDiarmid had called for the application to be refused, after raising concerns about the impact the development would have on the ecology in the area. He wanted one section of employment land to be removed from the plan, in the North Haugh. “It is an important ecological part of Fife,” he said. “We need to protect the things that are there. The more we build on it, the less chance we have of these creatures living there.” His motion got the support of two other councillors.
Councillor Verner said: “As the only St Andrews councillor attending Wednesday’s meeting of committee, I was delighted to second the motion to accept approval for the St Andrews West development. This was necessary to give the go ahead, as refusal would have held up the construction of the new school.”
St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson, who played a pivotal role in kick starting discussions between University and Council about locating the new Madras College on the Langlands site but did not take part in the vote due to to his prior involvement, welcomed the decision taken by the Committee – saying that it would bring about many benefits and opportunities.
“I do recognise that the development will change the landscape setting around the western edge of the town, however, the town has been constrained for far too long, and there is a desperate need for new affordable housing in particular. Combined with the Craigtoun Road development that was approved last year, around 390 new affordable homes are proposed, which will hopefully see many more local families able to stay in the town, as well as providing housing for people moving to the town for work.
It’s inevitable that the development will generate more vehicular traffic, however, I’m satisfied with the mitigation measures proposed, which include the signalisation of the Buchanan Gardens/Hepburn Gardens and West Port mini roundabouts, the extension of the link road that will divert traffic away from the town centre, and the proposed shared pedestrian/cycle route along Buchanan Gardens, Hepburn Gardens and Doubledykes Road. Having called for improved cycling infrastructure in St Andrews, I particularly welcome the latter proposed measure.
Whilst not relevant to the determination of the planning application, its approval – subject to a legal agreement – is also very significant in terms of progressing the new Madras College. With the Council’s acquisition of the Langlands site being subject to the approval of St Andrews West planning application, this is a significant step forward, and it’s absolutely essential that the legal agreement is now agreed as soon as possible, to – in turn – allow the planning permission to be issued, the site to be acquired, and construction of the school to commence.”