St Andrews residents expressed relief on learning that the North East Planning Committee had unanimously rejected the planning officer’s recommendation to approve a planning application to permanently site a fast food van in the northernmost garden in Greyfriars Garden. The application had previously been withdrawn when numerous flaws were found in the planner’s report, but it was returned to the committee with the recommendation for approval unchanged.
When considering the food van application, the Committee members expressed concerns that policies intended to protect the conservation area and the listed buildings in Greyfriars Garden would be breached if the application was approved. Councillor Tony Miklinski who moved refusal, seconded by Councillor Jane Ann Liston, wondered how many people would think that their residential amenity would be protected if a fast food van was permanently parked in the next door garden. The only other St Andrews Councillor present, Brian Thomson pointed out that the next door neighbours, contrary to suggestions made at the meeting, were totally opposed to the prospect of having a fast food van on the other side of their garden wall.
One of the concerns of the objectors was that if the application was approved, this would place a commercial value on the other gardens in Greyfriars Garden and lead to a domino effect of more applications. This fear proved to be prescient, as shortly after this first application, the offshore owner of the garden at the opposite end of the gardens, at St Mary’s Place, submitted an application to site two repurposed shipping containers to serve as “food shacks” in this garden. This garden is the confirmed location of the Greyfriars Chapel and graveyard, as shown in the medieval Geddy map of St Andrews.
The ‘opportunistic’ planning application to site modified shipping containers functioning as food shacks in the garden at the notherrn end of Greyfriars Gardens, which had attracted 36 objections from individuals and organisations before the consultation was due to close on 14th March, is still to be decided, but the objectors will be hoping that Councillor’s will take the same robust view as before on what they regard as an even more damaging proposal.
Example of a converted shipping container
Greyfriars Garden gets a special mention in the St Andrews conservation area documentation as a designed streetscape which is unusual as the homes on the east side have their gardens on the opposite side of the street. The gardens form part of the site of Greyfriars Monastery and when Greyfriars Garden was completed in the 1830’s the Burgh Council stipulated that the gardens should not be developed.
The Community Group, Poets’ Neuk, have embarked on a community right to buy application to the Scottish Government for this land in order to turn it into a poetry garden reflecting the history of the site and its connection with Mary Queen of Scots who gifted church lands to the community of St Andrews on the eve of her abdication.. Poets’ Neuk has pointed out that they have already obtained planning permission for their plans for the garden, but cannot carry their project forward until they secure the garden for the community. An artists impression of the planned Poets’ Neuk garden is shown below.
The staue of Mary Queen of Scots is for indicative purposes only