The Local Place Plan (LPP) consultation, part of a new initiative in Scottish planning, was carried out by the Royal Burgh of St Andrews Community Council in St Andrews this summer. The plan will act as a visionary blueprint over the next ten years, and provides the opportunity for communities to advocate for their future and propose ideas for development.
For St Andrews to be included in the larger Fife County LPP, the St Andrews Community Council must develop and complete a plan by the end of 2023. The Council recently held a series of interviews and focus groups with residents of St Andrews to identify their main concerns. These meetings were held during the summer months both in person at supermarkets and local events, and in an online format.
Interviewees were asked to rank different aspects of life in St Andrews, like housing, active travel, transportation, green spaces, buildings, and amenities, from 1 (room for improvement) to 7 (good) and name three areas the town could improve. According to the Community Council, the results demonstrated "a sense of the balance between residents, university, tourists and golf being 'out of kilter'".
The foremost concern was housing, with an average rating of 2.8. The results established that residents are particularly frustrated with the number of short-term lets, AirBnBs, and HMO licences which diminish the availability of accommodation options for residents in the local housing market. They also expressed a significant concern that locals and workers must move further out of St Andrews because of this lack of availability and the corresponding increase in rental prices. In response to these challenges, several respondents proposed ideas of rent control and the implementation of community-driven heating and energy systems.
Residents are also dissatisfied with local buildings and facilities. These received scores of 3.7 and 3.8, respectively. The feedback also highlighted the lack of "things to do" in town and how tourist-centric stores and coffee shops take away places where locals can buy everyday, essential items. The consensus among the interviewees was that there was a greater need for more independent shops, increased community access to University buildings like Younger Hall and the Byre Theatre, and amenities tailored for the elderly community.
While other areas like travel, transportation, and green spaces fared better in the survey, it is clear that they, too, need work. Criticisms focused on the maintenance of communal areas, cycle paths, playgrounds, and public restroom facilities, the need to restructure public transportation around St Andrews, and issues regarding parking options and traffic.
St Andrews Community Council has expressed appreciation for the valuable proposals for change gathered throughout the process and remains open to suggestions for the future of St Andrews. Whilst the diversity of the town's residents inevitably leads to challenges when catering to specific needs, the Council states that it is committed to building a stronger and more accessible town in keeping with its rich history.
Illustration: Lauren White