Plans dashed for new visitor centre and flats

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Plants to develop a new tourist centre on West Sands have been denied by the Scottish Government.

Appeals were launched against Fife Council’s refusal to take on plans for a visitor centre at West Sands and the development of flats in North Street.

However this week, the Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) reporter, Sinead Lynch, rejected both appeals. The decision means that 1.5 million pounds of investment will be lost for the town.

The plans were rejected because the “impact of the design, scale and massing of the proposed visitor centre building would harm the visual and landscape amenity of the surroundings to an unacceptable degree.”

The plans to create a new visitor centre on the iconic beach have been in motion for several years. The last bid to see the centre created was knocked back due a lack of financial backing.

The centre is regarded as necessary as the facilities which are currently there are seen as outdated.

The centre, if built, was supposed to increase tourism to St Andrews. Although the exact plans for the centre were not finalised the expectation was that it would be used to educate people about the sands’ wildlife, geology and history as well as providing other services.

West Sands beach lost its coveted Blue Flag award in 2012 because of a drop in water quality and has failed to win back the European standard.

However, a major restoration of the dunes, which have suffered from coastal erosion, has been undertaken and it was hoped a new visitor centre would have provided a further boost for the beach.

Plans for two blocks of flats at the site of the former police station on North Street were also rejected by Miss Lynch.

The proposal was for 17 flats to be built. These included floors at basement and attic levels, 14 car parking spaces and small gardens.

Ms Lynch concluded that while one of the two blocks of flats was acceptable, the “scale and massing of the proposed southern building would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area to an unacceptable degree.”

St Andrews Community Council and St Andrews Preservation Trust were amongst some of the objectors to the proposals as they are concerned about over-development in the town.

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