ST Andrews Environmental
The Association has been set up
with the aim of protecting the environment of St Andrews and North East
The FIRST OPEN MEETING
24th January 2016
John Birkett reports the STEPAL Open meeting
for 'St Andrews in Focus'.
No doubt a good number of "Focus" readers were among the dozens of
local residents who attended the first Open Meeting held by STEPAL
(St Andrews Environmental Protection Association Ltd) on Sunday, 24
January at the COSMOS Centre in Abbey Walk.
STEPAL is not a "one-trick pony", although the public perception of
its own "focus" has inevitably been its concerns about Madras
College's relocation to Pipeland Farm. On the contrary, the group
members are multi-taskers riding several horses at once!
So the drop-in meeting's objective was to inform the interested
public of those proposed developments and planning applications in
and around St Andrews, which STEPAL feels are worthy of wider
debate, being to the disadvantage of the townscape, landscape,
seascape, and general environment of our Royal Burgh, this unique
gem where we are privileged to live.
They do nor automatically object to any and all new projects - they
agree many are fully justified, or inevitable, but need
amelioration. But they believe the town also needs more publicity
about, and often protection from, those developments in particular
which are intended to last for several decades, affecting successive
generations of St Andreans and NE Fifers.
They see STEPAL's role as complementary to that of the St Andrews
Preservation Trust, in promoting community engagement, and in
supporting planners and councillors when trying to balance adherence
to sensible planning policy and procedures against political
The meeting covered displays, stalls, and an animated visual display
on a large screen, covering the Green Belt, Fife-Plan, TayPlan,
Feddinch, West Sands, New Park/Priory Gardens, Southern Hillside,
the Scottish Government Planning Review, and Pipeland - on all of
which STEPAL has made representations to the relevant bodies.
STEPAL supporters gave out information, answered questions, expanded
on the visitors' knowledge, noted their concerns, corrected any
Many visitors seemed impressed with the wide range of STEPAL's
activities and the detail of its concerns. Others, who had not fully
appreciated the rationale for their Pipeland objection, found their
arguments well-based and credible, with one even volunteering
something like "you're not the people you've been made out to be"!
The issues raised will be taken into account by STEPAL at the next
open event on Sunday, 6 March, details of which will be publicised
nearer the time, but may feature Madras/ Pipeland's implications for
traffic, emergency services, hospital/hospice, biomass plant, and
The SECOND OPEN MEETING
6th March 2016
STEPAL – The St Andrews Environmental
Scottish Charity Number SCO46115
SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT for the St Andrews Area
The second of the series of open meetings being held by STEPAL took
place on the afternoon of Sunday, 6th March, 2016, in the Green Room
of the Cosmos Community Centre, a voluntary organisation established
in 1971 to support community education and provide facilities for
people of all ages in St Andrews and the surrounding area. (see:
The format was the same as that of the first
meeting - a drop-in session with information areas on a variety of,
in this instance, transport related local issues. Dr William
Borthwick CEng MIMechE, the former co-ordinator of the European
Commission’s CIVITAS programme on sustainable urban mobility, was
instrumental in planning the afternoon’s topic stations. The meeting
had been publicised to STEPAL supporters, had also been advertised
in the local press as open to all interested parties, and the Press
There were 5 stations-
Traffic Congestion in the area – cause and
effects. There are documented statistics which attest to a 2% annual
increase of road traffic in the area due to the effects of ‘normal’
increase in numbers of commuters, shoppers and tourists. However
this will be even further increased in future due to new housing
developments which are part of the Western Extension of the current
Local Plan (1000 houses), and plans by the university to increase
the numbers of students. Another cause of increase is the
significant growth in construction traffic through the town
associated with many new developments which have been or may be
given the go-ahead such as Craigtoun North, North Bank Farm, new
flats in North Street, Feddinch Mains and the Fairmont Hotel.
Methods of management of increases in traffic were used for
discussion and views sought as to possible amelioration.
Public Transport – potential for
increased use. Local bus routes were detailed with information on
routes and frequencies. It is a feature of local transport movement
that many residents take cars into town for shopping purposes. This
needs to be discouraged and more use made of more
environmentally-friendly solutions such as the extensive local bus
Safe Cycling and Walking. These methods
of transport were promoted with details of cycle paths and walkways
around the town. St Andrews is a small town and the ease of movement
into and from the centre was shown on local large-scale maps. A
local blind lady, Mrs Catherine Rowe, and her guide dog, Aysha, came
along to present her perspective. Help for DIY cycle maintenance was
on offer with a hands-on demonstration!
A sustainable transport plan for the area. Dr
Borthwick, as mentioned above, put forward ideas and recommendations
from his extensive knowledge of similar situations from towns and
cities in Europe. The traffic problems of the St Andrews area need a
sustainable traffic plan to include all such movement in the future.
Piece-meal solutions to traffic issues are not the answer. There
must be a coherent, integrated and sustainable local traffic plan
covering all forms of local traffic. For this, much more information
is needed and statistical surveys are required to provide necessary
data for analysis.
StARLink – the St Andrews Rail Link Campaign.
STEPAL invited Ms Jane Ann Liston of StARLink to join us and she
came with brochures and maps to promote the future re-connection of
St Andrews to the rail network. This proved a very popular area with
all who attended.
There were maps to invite visitors to locate
perceived congestion points, a series of photographs to match to
traffic issues, a power-point display, and forms for feedback which
saw suggestions ranging from a potential by-pass to avoid grid-lock
in the town centre to central pedestrianisation and to greater
sanctions for cycling and parking on pavements. These suggestions
may form part of the focus of a future meeting on more detailed
transport issues in the town.
As with the first meeting, thanks are due to Mr Arlen Pardoe for his
IT and illustrative expertise for the various areas, and to Mr Bill
Sangster for his organisation of the event.
The hospitality area was well patronised and became a locus for much
discussion. It is very clear that there are major areas of concern
to all locals on this topic and many ideas for future meetings were
discussed as there are so many plans for developments in and around
the town which will affect all of those who live in, work in and
visit the town.
The next open meeting will take place in the autumn of 2016.
The THIRD OPEN MEETING
6th October 2016
An Open Meeting organised by STEPAL in Hope
Park and Martyrs Church hall on Thursday 6th October 2016 at 7.30 on
the subject of Green Belts.
The St Andrews Environmental Protection
Association Ltd (STEPAL) held a third, well-attended open meeting,
this time on the topic of Green Belts. Mr Lindsay Matheson
introduced the chair, Mr Willie Rennie MSP, who then introduced the
speakers, Mr Duncan Campbell of the Association for the Protection
Scotland (APRS), and Miss Penny Uprichard, a local environmental
campaigner, who each gave a talk on their areas of expertise. Mr
Rennie said that he was delighted to have been asked to chair the
meeting as a signed-up Pipeland supporter and commended STEPAL for
reaching out to all to learn and question.
Mr Campbell’s talk was about the Edinburgh
Green Belt in particular. He described
the history of the Green Belt and showed maps of its change over
time, culminating in great changes proposed due to increasing
pressure for land, particularly for housing. Areas of high landscape
quality within the city region had been identified but they and the
area of the Green Belt, mainly Prime Agricultural Land, still
surrounding the city were under enormous pressure as the city
population grows, and planners face a
considerable dilemma as the Scottish Government places great
emphasis on economic growth and housing is required by people moving
into the city to work.
Miss Uprichard gave a most comprehensive
account of the St Andrews Green Belt from its proposal in the 1990s
to its ultimate adoption in the 2012 Local Plan, pointing out its
encirclement of the town being placed outside the so-called Western
Extension, a development area of approximately 1000 new homes and a
science park. Since then there have been several development
applications for land within the designated
Green Belt area and Miss Uprichard urged everyone to get involved
and to fight to
stop inappropriate development.
Questions were invited from the audience and
covered other countries’ responses to city growth, sustainable
development – especially regarding transport and economic
development, involvement of communities in planning, provision of
housing and the current local government structure which does not
seem to protect the landscape very well.
Jamie Macleod, a former Madras College head boy
and current student at St Andrews University, gave the vote of
thanks to Mr Rennie, Mr Campbell and Miss Uprichard, tea and coffee
were served, and informal discussion continued.
Sandra Thomson, 7/10/16.
26th November 2017
M. Jack welcomed a very good turnout to the
meeting. There were very many STEPAL supporters along with a
considerable number of interested others from several town groups
with varied interests in planning issues. All were made most welcome
not only to hear the substance of the meeting but also to take part
in the discussion and enjoy the hospitality.
S. Thomson gave updates on the two major
current planning issues – the Western Extension and the new Madras
College at Langlands.
The Western Extension: Three public consultations had
been held and STEPAL had attended and responded to all three. The
Planning Application for the access road had been lodged and STEPAL
intended to respond to this, highlighting the route of the proposed
road across the North Haugh and the proposed Toucan crossing of the
A91. It was made clear that STEPAL, while critical of the route and
the crossing, was not objecting to the principle of a link from the
A91 to the proposed site of the new Madras College. The North Haugh
is not a statutory environmentally protected area – it is not even
an SSSI – and therefore a route across it could not be objected to
on environmental grounds. The value of some of the individual trees
in the arboretum could be mentioned in individual objections to the
Planning Application if so wished. The habitat issue was similarly
described and attention was drawn to the Planning Application and
the various mitigating methods proposed by the developers.
The New Madras College: A brief history of the
happenings during the time since the successful appeal of the
Judicial Review (of the Pipeland Application) was described and it
was pointed out that this was nearly two years before – a very long
time for Fife Council to make headway in any progress regarding the
new school. A single site was necessary and that and the fact that
it should be at Langlands had been proposed and accepted. Some
information had been given at consultations as to the layout of the
site but detail awaited the official planning application. It had
been said that the planning application would be in tandem with that
of the access road for the Western Extension. (This has not
happened and at the end of January 2018 the planning application for
the new Madras College has not been lodged).
At this point we were still awaiting the DPEA Reporter’s decision on
the appeal regarding the extension to the Westport
Bar/Hotel/Restaurant. (This has since been refused.)
L. Matheson gave a resume of the financial
position of STEPAL over the time from the success in the appeal of
the Judicial Review. It was proposed and unanimously accepted by all
STEPAL supporters present, confirming a previous resolution, that
funds should be retained until such time as the building of the new
school begins, after which there should be a further meeting of all
directors, members and supporters to decide formally on the future
of the funds.
The meeting was adjourned and informal discussion was continued over
Many thanks are due to Arlen Pardoe for the power point production
including maps and photographs to illustrate S Thomson’s
contribution and for the excellent display boards of all relevant
maps, photographs and documents, and for setting up all of these.
S. Thomson. 1/18