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Controversial hotel and student housing plans rejected

The Abbey Park proposal would have seen a new 90-bed hotel and 100-bed student accommodation.

Rejected: The Abbey Park proposal has been turned down.
Rejected: The Abbey Park proposal has been turned down.

Fife Council has rejected proposals to build new student accommodation and a hotel in St Andrews.

The controversial Abbey Park proposal would have seen a new 90-bed hotel and 100-bed purpose built student accommodation on the site of the former Abbey Park house.

The application, which was recommended for approval by planning officers, received 131 letters of objection and a petition signed by 279 members of the public.

The majority of the complaints focused on the over-development of the site, saying that a new hotel was not needed in St Andrews.

They also said that there was no need for more student accommodation in the area, as the current student housing wasn't at capacity.

A number of complaints also mentioned the impact it would have on residents already in the area. The housing nearby is primarily occupied by an older population and accessible supported housing.

However, there were also 273 letters of support submitted for the proposal.

Planning officer Martin Patrick told the North East planning committee on Wednesday: "Ultimately the application was assessed and officers have concluded it meets with policy and is recommended for approval."

But councillors were not convinced, and raised a number of concerns.

Councillor John Docherty asked: "There will be a certain number of people returning late at night and early in the morning. The noise impact and light pollution will disturb the sleep of other residents."

Councillor Jonny Tepp added: "There are concerns about over development on that site. There are 246 homes currently. This is expected to raise it to 450.

"We agreed to a maximum a few years ago when these homes were first approved, now they've come back and asked for more. What is the upper limit?"

Mr Patrick said: "The planning services invited everyone to raise concerns and over development was raised.

"I took this on and tried to find some sort of measurable metric, whether it was sunlight, placemaking, design. Some sort of metric I could bring to you and say yes it is overdeveloped.

"But with a range of material considerations, I've haven't been able to find measurable objective merits that show this.

"There is a large area of open space still available."

Councillor Tim Brett asked how many extra cars were expected to enter and exit the area.

Richard Simmons, transport manager, replied: "The total would be 43 additional trips in the morning and 39 in the evening. It is a light traffic road and I don't feel any additional traffic would undermine the road safety."

Councillor Tony Miklinski proposed that the planning application be rejected.

He said: "There is no requirement for either more student accommodation or a new hotel. Putting those in the middle of a quiet residential development will impact on amenity.

"Having both is just a step too far."

Councillor Docherty seconded the motion, asking that environmental impact concerns be added to the refusal.

No councillor proposed that it should be accepted, so the application was refused.

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