Robertson Property Ltd. recently announced their plans to build a new development consisting of a 90-bed hotel, 104-bed student accommodation building, 89 car parking spots, and bicycle parking spaces. The development would span over two blocks and be located at Abbey Park. Robertson announced their plans on Friday 6 October at a public consultation meeting with the community.
The citizens of Abbey Park, many of whom are retired, reacted passionately and in anger, telling Fife Today of the “disruption” the construction and developments would bring to their lives and the “unpleasant” nature of living near student accommodation.
Ross McNulty, development director of Robertson Property, in a statement regarding the consultation, said, “We are keen to hear the opinions of the community over our proposed Abbey Park development and were pleased to welcome the many views we received at the public consultation event last week.”
He continued, “We will also re-introduce an attractive public realm with a sense of place. Key mature trees will be retained as part of two linked public gardens which will be landscaped to encourage use by both local residents and hotel guests. Courtyard parking will be provided at the north of the site, leaving the buildings to benefit from direct access to the open spaces.”
The plans for more student accommodation come at a time of increased construction by the University to house its growing number of students.
In March 2016, the University announced their plans to invest £70 million in student housing, which will offer over 900 new accommodation spaces once the construction is complete. In total, the number of student bedrooms will increase from the current 4000 to 4900.
Citizens of Abbey Park … reacted passionately and in anger
Construction efforts taking place in the 2017-18 school year include the Albany Park renovation, the 220-bed University Hall annex, the 180-bed Agnes Blackadder Hall addition, and the Andrew Melville Hall renovation.
In terms of the construction, Emily Watson, who serves as senior student of Agnes Blackadder Hall, expressed positivity towards the process and the workers.
“[The construction] is going really well. It’s been pretty fast, and a lot’s been done quickly,” she told The Saint. “The workers have been really nice and friendly, and very cooperative with the students’ hours.”
Ms Watson also commented on the new developments, as this is her sec-ond year living in ABH, and concerns over prices.
“There wasn’t any construction when I was in my first year, but we knew that there were plans for more rooms to be built and more space for the students,” Watson said. “I think it’s a good thing that there’s more availability for student accommodation, but I don’t know whether that would raise the prices.”
The University of St Andrews press office addressed the concern for the costs of these new rooms in their statement released on 4 March 2016.
“Student leaders, who have worked closely with the University’s Residential Services team on the detailed proposals, have wel-comed the ambitious plans,” the statement reads. “A range of rents will be available, and sub-stantial bursary and support packag-es are in place to assist with costs.”
Jamie Rodney, who successfully led Srdja Popovic’s campaign for rec-tor, focused on affordable accommodation as one of the campaign’s aims. In its manifesto, the campaign listed two goals for “fixing the housing crisis” and ensuring all students have access to affordable accommodation, including lobbying the University “to build one unit of affordable accommodation (£4000 or less p e r year) for every two new units that are constructed” and encouraging a replace-ment of Albany Park with “more affordable accommodation.”
“Obviously, it’s a good thing that the University is investing more into accommodation.
“But there needs to be more of a focus on affordability. Increasing the number of rooms in halls like ABH is not going to solve our accommodation crisis.”