I've requested a meeting with senior councillors and officers, to discuss potential uses for the sites that make up the current split-site Madras College in St Andrews.
Whilst the commencement of the construction of a new Madras College at the Pipeland site is subject to the outcome of a judicial review, I am keen that we begin to firm up plans for the future use of the three sites that the school currently occupies, namely the South Street and Kilrymont Road sites, and Station Park, so that we can proceed with further improvements to St Andrews without further undue delays. I have therefore requested a meeting with the relevant Fife Council Executive portfolio holders – Councillors Lesley Laird and Bryan Poole – and senior Council officers.
Although the outcome of the judicial review is in the hands of others, the reality is likely to be that Fife Council will not need to retain all or, indeed, any of the aforementioned sites for educational purposes, and thus it makes good sense to begin to explore possible options.
An obvious use for the Kilrymont Road site would be the development of much needed affordable housing, and I believe that there would be fairly broad consensus in support of such a use for the site. With that in mind, it is worth pointing out that, as well as depriving local children and young people of a desperately needed new school, the on-going delay caused by the judicial review is delaying the potential development of such a use – a use that could transform the lives of so many people who cannot currently access affordable housing in St Andrews.
In passing, I have to say I'm rather perplexed by the St Andrews Preservation Trust’s attitude to this site. A key recommendation of the St Andrews Town Housing Commission – which the Trust was instrumental in setting up – is that Fife Council ‘actively pursue affordable housing development on the Kilrymont site of Madras College when it becomes available.’ With planning permission for the Pipeland site now confirmed, the site is effectively available, yet the Trust is financially backing a judicial review that is preventing the implementation of this key recommendation.
It should be noted though that there are issues with the Kilrymont site, in particular the grade B listing of the existing buildings, but that is one of the reasons why I have asked for a meeting, so that such issues can begin to be tackled as soon as possible.
The South Street site is a valuable piece of prime real estate in the centre of St Andrews. The historic grade A listed building at the front of the site – along with the separate Grade B listed schoolhouse – will obviously have to be retained, but the buildings to the rear have no architectural quality, and that part of the site is ripe for redevelopment. I have my own views on what the overall site could re-used for, and I would be keen to discuss with officers their views. Thereafter, I would like to see the views of the St Andrews community on this historic site taken into consideration.
As the Pipeland site would provide all the required sports facilities for the proposed replacement for Madras College, Station Park would be surplus to requirements. Whilst there may be a number of parties who would be keen to acquire this important area of open space, my personal view is that the site should be retained for community sports use, and I would certainly be pushing for that to happen. Madras Rugby Club use some of the park already, and I am sure that other clubs and organisations could make use of it, if the correct facilities are provided. I am currently speaking to a number of local sports clubs to seek their views on how Station Park could be used in the future, and I look forward to discussing this further with senior councillors and officers.