Appeal over £10m St Andrews retirement village after plans rejected

Plans for the £10m facility were previously thrown out by planning chiefs.

Fife Council’s north east planning committee turned down Gleneagles Holiday Park Limited’s application to create 35 residential retirement caravans on land at Northbank Farm back in December – and that appeared to be the end of the matter.

But a Scottish Government Reporter will now have the final say after the decision was challenged in appeal documentation submitted to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.

Councillors had refused planning permission for the development in the interests of road safety and sustainable travel; and in the interests of safeguarding the visual amenity, character and protecting the environmental quality of the countryside location.

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However, agents acting on behalf of the applicants have questioned that reasoning and suggested the council’s stance on the land in question is “unjustifiable”.

“This is not a housing development, it is a development of 35 retirement caravans,” a spokesperson for Montgomery Forgan Associates, acting on behalf of the applicants, said.

“It is acknowledged that some owner/occupiers may still choose to work and therefore there will be traffic movements at peak periods.

“However, the existing junction onto the A915 is designed to Fife Council standards and can easily accommodate any increase in traffic numbers.

“The transport development management service states that there is a presumption against the intensification of [use of] existing accesses on unrestricted distributor roads outwith established built up area.

“Taking this position means that there will never be an opportunity for any appropriate and justified development in countryside areas, which is unjustifiable.

“Sustainable modes of transport (including public transport) are readily and safely available, meaning that there is not a necessity to use private motor vehicles to access local amenities.”

The agents have also challenged the assessment of councillors that it would represent overdevelopment of the site.

They added: “The retirement caravans are all at least six metres apart (which is the requirement of Scottish Government model standards for caravan site licences).

“In addition, a substantial amount of landscaped amenity open space has been created within the appeal site.

“The appeal site layout and retirement caravans themselves, in terms of form, scale and layout will integrate seamlessly with the adjacent holiday park.”

Work has started on the company’s 82-strong luxury lodge park in the area, which was approved in 2018, but director William Stewart acquired the neighbouring site the following year for a luxury retirement village which could target a cohort of residents aged 50 and over.

The reaction of the community appears to have been mixed, with 14 letters of objection and 13 letters of support for the proposal submitted before north east planning committee councillors considered the matter prior to Christmas.

Council planners had actually recommended approval of the development after noting that the site had been allocated for residential use, while the applicant had argued the caravans would provide financial support for the business during the winter months when demand for the holiday lodges on the adjacent site was not as high.

The case is due to be allocated to a Reporter later this month, and a decision whether or not to uphold the appeal is expected in a matter of weeks.

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