For around a decade, plans for creating a single-site Madras College have been extensively discussed, without any tangible results. As this long gestation period suggests, the plans have faced numerous setbacks. The recent rejection of plans to renovate and expand the current Kilrymont Junior Campus, exemplifies this continuing struggle to find a suitable solution to the ‘Madras problem.’
Despite the decade-long turmoil, options for a solution have not yet been exhausted. It seems that University-owned land, just beyond Andrew Melville Hall on the North Haugh, may be a potential candidate for hosting the 1,600 students of Madras College.
Some local councillors, such as Robin Waterstone, have argued that this site boasts numerous advantages that are unmatched by other possible locations. The geographical setting of the North Haugh land is its most powerful and alluring asset. Lying on the western edge of St Andrews, the North Haugh site would prevent school buses from going into the town centre, minimising the potential for congestion in the centre of St Andrews. In addition, the site is opposite the Station Park playing fields, providing the possibility of an outdoor area for sport, just seconds away from the school site.
It almost seems like a perfect solution to the protracted search for a site; unused University land, in what appears to be an ideal geographic location. However, as the long struggle for a single-site Madras College indicates, such options are never quite as simple as they may superficially seem.
Firstly, the move may be economically detrimental to the town of St Andrews. Many local businesses benefit substantially from the spending power of the schoolchildren during their lunch breaks. More salient than the economically based argument, is one regarding the viability of the land itself. The site was proposed in 2009, but was rejected after planners observed that the North Haugh land was often waterlogged, making it unsuitable to accommodate a school building.
Presently, local councillors have suggested that further investigation must be carried out in order to assess the true merit of the site, bringing new hope to the search for a single-site Madras College.