Councillors have unanimously approved the development of a Marks and Spencer and a Premier Inn on the site of the old abattoir on Largo Road.
The proposals have been in the pipeline for some time, but there will now be immediate action on this £7 million project; demolition of the former abattoir buildings could start within the next few days.
The new Premier Inn hotel is set to have 65 bedrooms while the Marks and Spencer – which will focus primarily on food – will boast just under 1,000 square metres of retail floor space.
Ged Hainey, a spokesperson for the firm Ryden, which prepared the planning application, told The Courier: “We are absolutely delighted that members of this committee were happy with the proposals.
“We feel from a retail and accommodation perspective, our proposals dovetail really well and complement the existing facilities in St Andrews. It will be an asset to the town in the future.
“We will get building warrants done and will start remedial works on the site almost immediately. Demolition will get under way very soon.”
Construction firm Ashleigh (St Andrews) Limited will be in charge of building the new development. They appear confident that the project will be welcomed by most of the community.
Brian Robinson from Ashleigh (St Andrews) said: “We have been very encouraged by the amount of local support for our project. Our pre-application consultation exercise generated approximately 488 responses, of which 82.5% were positive. We would like to thank the people of St Andrews for their support.”
However, some have expressed worries over the potentially negative impact of the new businesses on the town. St Andrews Merchants’ Association are wary that a supermarket like Marks and Spencer might be detrimental to business in the town centre. Cautions have also been raised over fears that a Premier Inn may take business away from the independent bed and breakfasts currently flourishing in St Andrews.
Yet St Andrews councillor Dorothea Morrison does not share these worries. She said: “I would have thought Premier Inn was a different market to the bed and breakfasts. I always see people from St Andrews in Dundee M&S. I think this will bring more people into St Andrews from Cupar and other places.”
Further concerns over diminishing the town’s employment land supply have been somewhat waylaid by Fife Council planner Angus Dodds. He stated that the developer should pay a commuted sum of £277,000 to Fife Council, allowing them to purchase alternative employment land.
He further argued that the Marks and Spencer food store would be ultimately beneficial to the town, according to a Retail Impact Assessment. The increased numbers of shoppers it would attract to St Andrews could in turn increase the number of customers in specialised local shops, boosting their turnovers, he told councillors.
St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson is also, on balance, in favour. He said: “The proposed hotel and supermarket development is contrary to the local plan but the benefits of the development – the provision of cheaper hotel accommodation, the creation of jobs and the removal of an eyesore – outweigh this. Overall, the approval of this development is good news for St Andrews.”