Statement by Sandra Thomson, local resident, now retired after teaching Geography at Madras College for 22 years.

I wish to address the committee from Geographical and Planning perspectives in objection to the proposed development of a new Madras College at Pipeland.

I wish to cover three points – SITE, SITUATION and SIZE

If a pupil in one of my former S6 Advanced Higher Geography classes had come up with Pipeland Hill for the site of a new Madras College, I would have told him or her to go away and think again. I would have said – look at the site, the land to be built on and the situation, the location with reference to other features, in this case, the town of St Andrews and the other towns and villages from which the pupil body would come, and how they would reach the school.

  • Pipeland is not a good site to build on due to slope, drainage and the cool north-facing aspect. People can and do build on slopes but it is far more expensive – current estimates are escalating - and to be avoided if flat land is available – and it is.

  • Pipeland is not in a good situation in relation to its catchment. The hospital has been built at the edge of the hill but the hospital serves St Andrews and the East Neuk. The school will not serve the East Neuk – it has Waid Academy - but will serve the areas to the north and west of the town, therefore a good situation has to be on the western edge of St Andrews. Approaching 70% of pupils will be coming to St Andrews from the north-west. It is totally unnecessary to have them travel to the south-east of the town.

There are at least FOUR better level sites on the western edges of St Andrews each with a far better situation for the majority of the pupils.

  • However, Fife Council has submitted a request for Planning Permission in Principle to put a new school on Pipeland Hill. Having looked at Fife’s own planning guidelines, there are simply no planning arguments to be made for Pipeland. In fact all of the 7 factors listed apply adversely to Pipeland – suitability of site, visual appearance, nuisance to neighbours, impact on conservation (in this case, the Green Belt), adequacy of drainage, access, and planning history.

  • According to Fife’s plans, the school is to be built for up to 1450 pupils and while the current roll has fallen to just under 1300, this was expected from the falling rolls in the feeder primaries and has probably bottomed out. However, from now on the roll will start to increase with over 1550 new homes planned in the school catchment in the current Local Plan over the next 8 years which will be augmented with the Army coming to Leuchars from 2015 onwards. By a conservative estimate, over 1650 pupils of secondary age will require education at Madras by 2022 – already 200 over the 1450 limit, and this does not take into account any new developments under TayPlan. If only a quarter of the possible proposals for housing development go ahead under TayPlan – and we are told NE Fife is going to be a ‘growth area’ - the school will be far too small. We need a school to be built like Dunfermline High School which will accommodate up to 1800 pupils – this is what will be required for the secondary school pupils of NE Fife.

So, in terms of SITE, SITUATION and SIZE, the current proposal falls very short for the delivery of a new Madras College fit for the future education of all the pupils from St Andrews and North East Fife. This proposal should not be recommended to Fife Council. There are far better options available.