The University of St Andrews is to press ahead with plans to provide an extra 700 student beds in town to help take the pressure off the private rental market.
Working with its partner Campus Living Villages (CLV), the University is re-submitting multi-million-pound plans for a major new student residence on the site of Albany Park, the outdated 1970s accommodation at East Sands which was demolished in 2020.
The pandemic, worldwide economic downturn and the subsequent hike in the cost of building materials made St Andrews’ original plans for the site unfeasible.
Now, the University and CLV have revised the design to increase the number of student beds the development would provide from 672 to 710.
The proposed development is part of a series of significant investments designed to provide additional purpose-built accommodation for students over the next few years. It’s hoped this will also help relieve pressure on local housing stock in St Andrews and lessen demand on the private rented sector.
A new Planning Application Notice (PAN), which has been submitted to Fife Council, will be followed by public consultation events at the Byre Theatre on Wednesday 7 June and Wednesday 28 June at which representatives of the project design team, the University and CLV will outline the new plans for Albany Park, answer questions and hear views from the public.
The University’s Chief Operating Officer, Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson, said:
“The development at Albany Park is key to the University’s strategy to provide more accommodation for our students and ease the pressure on housing stock in St Andrews. Despite recent volatility in the markets, particularly the construction industry, we have remained committed and optimistic this plan can become a reality.
“If approved, the new Albany Park will provide more than 700 high-quality student beds in an attractive landscaped environment which will improve amenity in the east of the town. The development has the potential to revitalise the eastern area of St Andrews and we are looking forward to putting our proposals to the local community and hearing their views.”
Students have voiced concerns about the cost of the University’s halls of residence and have campaigned for more affordable accommodaion. According to the University, a range of student rents will be available, and substantial bursary and support packages are in place to assist with costs. St Andrews currently offers more than £24 million a year in student scholarships and bursaries to help with the costs of living, study and accommodation.
Campus Living Villages (CLV) has pointed to issues such as labour and material shortages as being responsible for delaying construction of the accommodation which had previously been given planning consent and and concluded that the proposals for Albany Park, in their current form, are not deliverable. There are a number of reasons for this including a technically challenging site to develop, and rising costs associated with inflation and supply chain issues.
CLV claims that it is “not seeking to explore or challenge the central principles on which the existing consent was achieved but inevitably there is a need to examine where cost efficiency savings can be made. At a high level, the changes being considered are focusing around the following key areas:
- the site layout plan is largely proposed to remain as consented with the exception of the joining of two residential blocks allowing efficiencies and a modest increase in rooms.
- Rationalisation of the building envelope and palette of materials.
- Increase in height of one residential block
- Facilities building to come as a later phase
- Change to a full electric strategy to increase ESG credentials”
“As this is a new planning application, procedurally we are required to give notice to Fife Council by way of a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) of our intention to submit an application, and as part of this process, we will be looking to engage with community councils, local community groups, elected members and members of the local community.!
Picture: artists sketch of how the new Block B will look