THE transparency of local planning decisions is again in dispute in Fife, where it seems councillors did not have access to an internal report on the council’s proposal to replace the split-site Madras College in St Andrews.
Speaking inter alia of the proposal’s “substantial adverse landscape impact on the St Andrews green belt, right-of-way/core path and residential zone”, the strong language of this internal Urban Design document was nowhere adequately reflected in any report or recommendation given to elected members.
Specialist advice from its own officials, robustly criticising the council’s scheme, was apparently omitted – perhaps as inconvenient (or damning) to their case – and came to light only when an alert reader of the considerable number of planning documents made a Freedom of Information request.
If that is indeed the case, as some suspect, and Fife Council withheld officers’ expert criticism of its own green-belt development application, thus effectively misleading elected members at its two crucial planning stages, where does this leave the credibility of the present administration or even the council itself?
The need for a new school is beyond question, but not one based on apparently flawed planning processes, partial information and with serious detrimental consequences for neighbours and the town environment.
(Dr) William Borthwick
St Andrews, Fife