The planning system in Scotland has many supporters and detractors. It would be difficult to imagine a decision more likely to bring it into disrepute than the one over a visitors centre at the blue flag West Sands beach in St Andrews (your report, 18 October).
A number of eligible councillors could not take part because of a conflict of interest; the chair of the North-east Fife planning committee had to use a casting vote to resolve the division between those who did take part; much-sought-after funding for the project may now have to be forsaken.
Fife Council’s approach towards job creation, enhanced leisure facilities and promotion of tourism has been made to look ridiculous.
No doubt the interests of the golfing lobby are important. The Open Championship next year will allow the town, the region and Scotland to be displayed favourably on the world stage. It is difficult to see, however, why planning approval for a building of some architectural interest, especially one hidden behind a five-metre dune, would spoil either the landscape or the golfing experience.
The West Sands provide an important release for many people who are busy or simply want a day out with family, friends and children.
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust has tried to enhance facilities for such visitors. It now appears the trust has been thwarted by those who feel St Andrews should remain in a 1950s’ timewarp.