£10m appeal for St Andrews retirement village after plans rejected

Plans for the £10million facility had previously been rejected by planning chiefs.

Fife Council’s North East Planning Committee rejected an application by Gleneagles Holiday Park Limited to create 35 residential retirement caravans on land at Northbank Farm in December – and that seemed like the end of the deal.

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

Councilors had refused planning permission for the development in the interest of road safety and sustainable travel; and in the interest of safeguarding the visual amenity, character and protection of the environmental quality of the rural site.

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However, agents acting on behalf of the claimants questioned this reasoning and suggested that the council’s position on the land in question was “unjustifiable”.

“It’s not a housing estate, it’s a 35-trailer retirement housing estate,” a spokesman for Montgomery Forgan Associates said, acting on behalf of the candidates.

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

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

“The Transport Development Management Department indicates that there is a presumption against the intensification of [use of] existing accesses on unrestricted distribution routes outside the established built-up area.

“Taking this position means that there will never be a proper and justified development opportunity in rural areas, which is unjustifiable.

“Sustainable modes of transport (including public transport) are easily and safely available, meaning there is no need to use private motor vehicles to access local amenities.”

Officers also disputed councilors’ assessment that this would represent overdevelopment of the site.

They added: ‘The retirement caravans are all at least six meters apart (which is the Scottish Government’s model standards requirement for caravan site licensing).

“In addition, a substantial amount of landscaped green space has been created on the call site.

“The layout of the roll-call site and the retirement caravans themselves, in terms of shape, scale and layout, will blend seamlessly into the adjacent holiday park.”

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

Community reaction appears to have been mixed, with 14 letters of objection and 13 letters of support for the proposal submitted before North East Planning Committee councilors considered the matter before Christmas.

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

The case is due to be assigned to a reporter later this month, and a decision on whether to uphold the appeal is expected within weeks.

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