Local knowledge

LESLEY Riddoch is right 
(Perspective, 8 June) to argue that our democratic deficit from Brussels/Westminster downwards requires reform, particularly in planning matters.

In probably its most critical 
decision in five years, the North-East Fife planning committee, comprising councillors with­ ­relevant local knowledge, was over-ruled by the full council due to voting en-bloc by others with ­little local knowledge or apparent interest. 

So a local secondary school risks relocation to a third-rate “green-belt” site costing 12-times its farmland value, which the council itself rejected only 18 months previously, the old 
St Andrews town council would never have selected, much or most of the town and catchment area opposes, and the government reporter rejected – all ­despite the offer of a far superior site on the university campus. 

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Moreover, the council’s choice was based on denying the other site’s availability, contradicting university assurances; decrying its suitability by using an absurd “split-site” definition not used elsewhere (re, offsite sports-fields); applying non-comparable site valuations and costings to discredit the university site; and presenting Scottish Environment Protection Agency data in a ­manner which I consider likely to mislead. 

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews, Fife