Following much brouhaha, the town of St Andrews is set to expand. Many anticipate growing pains.
Bringing an extended saga nearer to a close, a planning committee of Fife Council have announced their unanimous approval for a new housing scheme that will see hundreds of new residences and related amenities built on the western periphery of St Andrews.
Mount Melville Ltd’s project, dubbed “Craigtoun North”, will see the construction of up to 370 individual homes on 17 hectares of land southwest of Younger Gardens. For reference, this is situated south of the B939 near Rufflets hotel.
Developers anticipate that a third of of the residences constructed will be classified as “affordable housing”. The community will also be host to retail, office space, and an eatery/pub.
The new development is contrasted with a larger scheme, run by St Andrews West LLP, that seeks to develop the land on the western edge of town. A consultation of a map of the proposed expansion provided by St Andrews West LLP shows that the majority of the area slated for development is currently in use as farmland. The southern terminus of this proposed area for development abuts the A91, the main thoroughfare out of St Andrews towards Guardbridge, Leuchars, and Dundee, near Andrew Melville Hall.
Proposals by St Andrews West LLP include up to 1090 homes in total, as well as university facilities, a care home, and a hotel, amongst other amenities.
This larger plan also incorporates a relocation of Madras College to an area near the University’s sports fields. The move will see a unified campus for Madras students; currently, secondary school students are divided between two campuses in town. While development of the new campus is underway, no plans have been finalised for the fate of the current campuses on South Street and Kilrymont.
In the case of Craigtoun North, some observers have expressed concerns about squeezing so many properties into so small an area. St Andrews West LLP signalled that the scale of construction might be disproportionate to the site’s size. It also warned that its approval of the Craigtoun North scheme could undermine the greater strategic development area (SDA). Fife Council, for its part, disagrees, holding that the SDA remains viable.
St Andrews West LLP is a partnership of the University, Headon Holdings, and “other local landowners.” It envisions “a dynamic business, residential and learning quarter in the west of St Andrews.” It has held three public consultations to take the pulse of the community on its plans; the last of these meetings was at the end of September 2017.
Multiple third party groups have also expressed concerns about the development on the edge of town. St Andrews Preservation Trust, which runs the municipal museum, registered its disapproval of new construction projects on the margins of the town in a letter to Fife Council, consistent with its support for a “Green Belt” around St Andrews. On its webpage, it claims that “the depletion of green space and skyline by unrestricted commercial development on its outskirts” is “perhaps the greatest threat to the character of the town.”
Doubtless, many in the tourism and golf industry in town will harbour similar fears that the growth of St Andrews into its green environs will serve to erode its singular, small-town charm — and thereby some of our town’s draw for paying visitors who are a rockbed of the local economy. Whether or not those fears are justified, only time will tell.
Final approval of Mount Melville Ltd’s plans pend legal arrangements relating to issues such as road upgrades and provision of school services to new residents.