Bad planning

You have recently covered two contentious issues affecting Edinburgh which are reflected in St Andrews.

Ian Swanson highlights concerns over the “architectural gem” General Register House becoming another pub or hotel (your report, 7 February) and Emilia Hanna the health problems from exhaust pollution and the need to encourage cycling to work (Platform, 5 February).

Fife Council envisages selling Madras College’s “architectural gem” built in 1833 for commercial purposes including conversion to a hotel, despite the bequest of its founder Dr Andrew Bell that it be retained for educational purposes.

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While also aspiring to be “Scotland’s Greenest County”, it plans to buy green-belt farmland to relocate Madras College to St Andrews’ south-eastern hillside boundary – the wrong side for the great majority of pupils and staff – thus requiring 76 school-bus journeys through town every day clocking an extra 24,000 unnecessary urban bus-miles annually, and generating thousands more in-town car-miles by staff, parents and community users.

An alternative site on the right side of town, meeting the council’s criteria – available, deliverable, feasible, suitable, affordable – and avoiding such in-town pollution (plus congestion and road damage), which is superior in all respects including ease of bicycle access and would enable the 1833 building’s acquisition by the university, was rejected by Fife Council after an imbalanced assessment and non-like-for-like comparison of the two which, inter alia, largely ignored environmental issues.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews