138 years after Madras College, founded by the Rev Andrew Bell, opened in South St, and just 54 years after the opening of the Kilrymont campus, both closed for the last time on Thursday (24th June). When pupils return to school in August, it will be to the new building at Langlands, close to the St Andrews University Sports Ground between Hepburn Gardens and the A91.
After years of wrangling over the site of the new school, which the Council had planned to build on farmland at Pipeland, the new campus will open just 2 years after plans were approved. The Langlands site, owned by the University of St Andrews, had been identified early in the planning process as the most suitable site for the school but initial discussions between the Council and University over the transfer of the Langlands site had broke down in 2011 with the then Principal, Louise Richardson stating that the provision of a new school in St Andrews was not a priority for the University. The Council then did a deal with Muir Construction to build at Pipeland, having granted itself planning permission in 2014.
The years between 2011 and 2016 were characterised by divisions within the local community with those in favour of getting the school built as soon as possible for the sake of their children’s education (e.g. Parent Voice)and those opposed to the siting of the school at Pipeland on the grounds of the unsuitability of the site on physical and environmental grounds, led by the St Andrews Environmental Protection Association, STEPAL These divisions ended up in the Court of Session’s Inner House (Scotland’s court of appeal) which, in March 2016 found Fife Council’s decision to build on green belt land at Pipeland to be unlawful.
It is generally accepted that Labour councillor Brian Thomson, played a prominent role in brokering the subsequent deal between the University and Fife Council., culminating in Council leader David Ross’ surprise announcement at the meeting of Fife Council on the 30th December 2016 that a deal with St Andrews University, owner of the land at Langlands, was close to completion.
Picture courtesy of Fife Today: From left to right, Olav Darge, depute head teacher, head persons Callum Herzog and Joseph Usher, and rector Avril McNeil.