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 the centuries.
We simple want to make sure that any development is compatible with the town’s character.

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 trunk road.
The Trust campaigned successfully for the establishment of a conservation area – and no one today would seriously consider destroying any of our historic buildings.

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 Green Belt.
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 setting.
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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 been assessed.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 Application.