ST ANDREWS PRESERVATION TRUST
Presentation by Graham Wynd, Chairman
Since its foundation in 1937, the aim of the St Andrews Preservation Trust
has been to “Preserve for the benefit of the public the amenities and
historic character of …. St Andrews and its neighbourhood.”
We accept the need for the town to change and evolve, as it has done over
We simple want to make sure that any development is compatible with the
In its early days, the Trust fought hard against the public authorities of
the time to save from demolition some of the vernacular housing which is
now a much loved feature of our town.
Later, (almost unbelievably now) it saw off plans from the authorities to
demolish houses in the heart of St Andrews - to make way for a 60ft-wide
The Trust campaigned successfully for the establishment of a conservation
area – and no one today would seriously consider destroying any of our
But pressure then came from another quarter: the spread of housing on the
periphery of the town, burdening the infrastructure and putting at risk
the historic appearance and feel of St Andrews, from within and from
outwith the town, and the demarcation between town and country.
It was to contain and manage the spread of housing and other development
that we, with others, pressed for 19 years for the establishment of a
Today, who would doubt the wisdom of a Green Belt? You only have to look
at the many examples of ancient towns and villages south of the border
which have been swallowed up in suburban sprawl.
Trustees of the Preservation Trust are unanimous in their objection to the
proposal to locate the new Madras College at Pipeland.
Most of our 650 members are themselves parents of children here or
elsewhere and a good number are school users.
They, as does the Trust, fully support the building of a new community use
school. But we think that a school at Pipeland would be a travesty.
None of our 650 members has complained to Trustees at the stance we have
taken; to the contrary, many have voiced their support and have written
their own personal letters of objection to the Council’s proposal.
The proposed new school at Pipeland would not only destroy a substantial
area of rich, sweeping agricultural land, so much a part of our landscape
It would also have a serious environmental impact on the surrounding
neighbourhoods and roads.
It would be a major violation of the Green Belt, whose very purpose is to
stop this sort of development.
And do we honestly believe it would stop there?
How long would it be before special pleadings would be made for adjacent
areas of Green Belt to be developed?
And it’s all so unnecessary. There are other sites, more suitable than
Pipeland. One in particular, on the North Haugh, would not have the
planning and practical problems associated with Pipeland and could deliver
a new school sooner.
The Preservation Trust feels it has a duty - not only to its members but
also to the wider St Andrews community and to generations to come - to
take an active part in the debate.
It therefore took the unusual step of investing in the services of
well-respected independent professionals in several key areas:
environmental impact; transportation; planning law and regulation - to
review the Council’s proposals.
It is their opinions that inform our substantial objection to Fife
Council’s September 2013 application for Planning Permission in Principle,
which we submitted in October.
When the applicant supplied additional material in January, we again
sought our advisors’ opinions, and these underpin our supplementary
objection submitted earlier this month.
I cannot possibly cover all the points made in the Trust’s objections. So,
I urge Councillors to read them for themselves, because many of the points
we made have not been covered in the Planners’ report. I will confine
myself to the following points.
- In our view, informed by professional
advice, the new material supplied by the applicant in January has done
little to ameliorate the unacceptable nature of this proposal.
- Indeed, there are now more, not fewer,
transport issues. For example, all the extra traffic lights will cause
serious congestion in surrounding streets and at the hospital; parking
provision for all types of vehicle is inadequate and potentially unsafe.
- The LVIA (Landscape and Visual Impact
Assessment) is still deficient in important aspects.
For example, some of the photo montages are seriously misleading.
The re-location of the floodlit all-weather pitch close to homes on the
northern boundary could constitute a statutory nuisance, and has not
- A school at Pipeland would cause
unnecessary travel for most of its users, consume more resources, harm
the environment and interfere with the smooth running of the hospital.
- Rainwater run-off has been grossly
underestimated. Much more money will have to be spent on building larger
SUDS, and on its continual maintenance, if the flood risk to nearby
homes is to be avoided.
- There is no case for breaching the Green
Belt or building on prime agricultural land.
Alternative sites are available, as indeed advised by Alan Paul, the
Council’s Asset Manager to Cllr Alex Rowley in September 2012.
- Technical and environmental assessments
have been inadequate or non-existent.
Pipeland was selected without any assessment of technical or
environmental factors, nor even of deliverability. Although there has
been some assessment of alternative sites, this has been superficial.
- The Council states that it has spent
almost £1 million for what it describes as a feasibility study. But
there is no proper feasibility study, worthy of the name, no risk
assessment, no evaluation of options, no cost details – basic good
practice requirements for much smaller projects, let alone this one.
- Yet, all the time, as fresh problems are
uncovered at Pipeland, costs are ballooning. A £13 million pound budget
overspend is reliably estimated. What will this do to the quality of the
buildings in this prominent location, on public display for the next 50
years or so? How much will have to be chopped off the provision of
educational and community-use facilities?
The purpose of the land-use planning process (which is what we’re about
tonight) is to consider whether Pipeland Farm in the St Andrews Green
Belt is an appropriate location for a replacement Community Use
Secondary School for the Madras College catchment area.
We can only conclude that this proposal should be halted forthwith – and
that all resources should be channelled towards a full evaluation of the
North Haugh site, which has many advantages over Pipeland and very few
of its disadvantages.
Councillors are urged to recommend rejection of this Planning