Fife Council’s Planning Committee has refused proposals to create new student housing next to East Sands, claiming that there is “no obvious need for student accommodation in St Andrews.”
The application, submitted by private company Alumno Developments Ltd, consisted of plans to transform the current Wonder Years nursery site on East Sands into self-catered accommodation for 150 students and a new nursery building. Fife Council planning officers had strongly recommended the application for approval.
However, last Wednesday Fife councillors for the North East Fife Area Committee voted 11 to 3 in favour of refusing the application on the grounds that the proposed development was “not sympathetic” to the local landscape and did not comply with established blueprints for the development of the area.
Alumno’s Development Manager Catherine McKenzie said: “We are of course very disappointed with this decision, as we had worked hard with council officers to ensure that the development complied with all statutory requirements.
“The design was tailor-made for East Sands. We considered carefully the landscape and surrounding areas and put forward a high quality, environmentally sustainable design.
“Fife Council’s own planning officials strongly advised councillors to approve the project. They concluded that many of the councillor’s objections had no substance, while others were outweighed by the major improvements the project would bring to St Andrews and to the East Sands area.”
Farah Bogani, a second year International Relations student, agreed with McKenzie, adding: “I think we need more accommodation nearer the town centre. It’s not fair that some of us have to commute such long distances.”
Alumno proposed to build the student housing in blocks of “self-contained cluster flats” of up to seven en-suite bedrooms and a shared kitchen. Amenities such as a common room and parking space were included in the plans.
According to McKenzie, envisaged rent prices for the East Sands flats were “substantially cheaper than rates currently charged by private landlords.”
Alumno specialises in developing student accommodation and has created around 2000 rooms for university students in various UK locations including Edinburgh and London. McKenzie said it will continue to pursue its plans to redevelop the East Sands site.