After being ruled against in a civil case where STEPAL’S (St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Limited) objection to the new Madras College’s location on the Pipeland Farm site on Largo Road, the Fife Council has declined to appeal the decision.
The decision issued in March, handed down by the Court of Session, Scotland’s Supreme Civil Court, quashed the planning permission for a new Madras College at the Pipeland Farm site.
The Court of Session ruled in STEPAL’s favour, with Lord Malcolm of the Court of Session describing the Fife Council as having taken an “erroneous approach” to granting planning consent in the first instance.
Although the Court of Session is Scotland’s highest civil court, the Fife Council did have the option of appealing up to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, a course of action the council has declined to pursue.
Pam Ewen, the Senior Planning Manager for the Fife Council announced the decision saying that: “We will now re-open and commence reconsideration of the application. As Planning Authority we firstly need to consider what new information the applicant will need to submit to allow reconsideration of this proposal.”
Council Leader David Ross worked to reassure students, parents and the St Andrews public that the decision not to appeal is the right one and that “the will to see a new Madras is as strong as ever.”
“I am adamant that the children of Madras deserve a new school which will meet all our aspirations. We will not be diverted from that aim,” Ross said.
“We have been advised that the planning application for the Pipelands site remains ‘live’ and the Council will have to consider how to take this forward,” he continued.
“This will take time and will also be dependent on the progress of the Local Development Plan which is currently under consideration.”
The decision to pursue building the new Madras College on the Pipeland site has polarized the opinions of St Andrews residents. STEPAL, the plaintiff in the case which resulted in the quashing of the planning permission, was created with the sole purpose of opposing the Fife Council’s move to build on the Pipeland Site.
Looking ahead, the Fife Council Senior Planning Manager said the application would be reopened and consideration given to what new information needed to be provided.
“I anticipate that it will take us some time to go back through the original information submitted with the planning application before we can advise the applicant what is required,” she wrote.
At the time the initial decision was made, North East Fife MSP Roderick Campbell stated that whilst he respected the Court of Session’s judgement, its result leaves the town with “no planning permission for the construction of a secondary school which is badly overdue and means that a new generation of pupils will not have the benefit of education in appropriate surroundings.”
When asked what he would do to help the situation if re-elected in May, Mr Campbell said: “I will continue to put pressure on the Scottish Government to render any assistance that it can by bringing parties together, in order to resolve the current extremely unsatisfactory
Cllr Brian Thomson also expressed his disappointment with the decision, stating that though he loves the town, he finds it “deeply dispiriting that a small number of people continually thwart, or slow down the modernization and upgrading of essential public services”, comparing the much delayed construction of St Andrews Community Hospital with the Madras College replacement.
He continued: “It’s always easier to stop things happening – especially if you have the wealth—rather than making things happen and, in this case, it’s the children, young people and staff of the school that will have to put up with the consequences.”
A member of Parent Voice, who wished to remain anonymous, also remarked upon the “shameful” condition of the school, stating that ten years have now passed since “inspectors labelled the facilities as ‘unsatisfactory’”, whilst the “split site” nature of the school means that “pupils lose hours of teaching time as teachers race between South Street and Kilrymont between lessons.”