Sustainable Shifts on South Street
The Council has commissioned Stantec, a built environment consultancy, to provide conceptual design plans and engage community members in the planning process.
Under the “Spaces for People” scheme introduced to St Andrews in 2020, 44 parking spaces were removed from South Street, as pavements were extended to allow more space for pedestrians and outdoor dining. However, these interventions “are only temporary in their current form,” according to Stantec, which has prompted study of whether they should be modified, made permanent, or removed.
In recent weeks, Stantec has held public drop-in sessions, stakeholder workshops, and an equality street survey, alongside an online survey to obtain feedback from the public on the potential changes to South Street.
According to the firm, “the aim is to create a space in which people can enjoy a safe, welcoming, greener and attractive outdoor space to congregate, use local amenities, walk, wheel or cycle.” Fife Council is considering the addition of streetscape elements like widened footways, cycle parking, public seating, planters and trees, and public artwork.
Full pedestrianisation of South Street is not under consideration. Additionally, Stantec stressed any changes would feature materials “consistent with the local character”. Renderings show how the existing temporary pavement build-outs — made of asphalt concrete — could be reconstructed using cobblestone.
Speaking with The Saint, local residents shared mixed opinions on the proposed updates. Andy Topping, a former transport scheduler and taxi driver, considers himself “well-versed on traffic issues in the town.”
“St Andrews is a hub where many people from the outlying rural areas come to conduct their necessary business. They need to be able to park their cars,” explained Mr. Topping, whose family has lived in St Andrews since the 1700s.
Richard Wilkinson, another local resident, said that his mother, who is disabled, “avoids St Andrews as it is now due to parking issues.” Addressing accessibility concerns, Stantec explained that “the needs of disabled parking provision on South Street will be fully considered to ensure access”.
“The needs of people with protected characteristics are a priority for transport infrastructure projects [...] The Fife Council welcomes suggestions regarding where further disability bays are needed”.
Other community members supported the potential changes. Gordon Sedgewick, a lifelong St Andrews resident, acknowledged the need for disabled parking, taxis, and delivery vehicles, but believes that “the town is now totally spoiled, with way too many cars in it”.
Gordon suggested that more drivers should walk, or park farther out from town, and he supports the expansion of ‘park and ride’ lots and public transport services. Christina Mowatt, a singer and lifelong resident of St Andrews, told The Saint that she accesses the town centre daily via car: “I go up to town every day, and I’ve also worked in town all my life.”
Nevertheless, Ms. Mowatt expressed her support for the South Street plans: “I like the proposed changes. Nothing stays the same forever.”
“Without students and tourists, our town centre would be a very sorry state of affairs as is many others in Scotland,” she explained, adding that “locals like myself, I’m sure, will love this great change to South Street.”
Indeed, University students shared their support for better pedestrian accommodations on the street. “South Street is such a busy road. There’s a lot of speeding and it's not very pedestrian accessible at some points,” explained Fiona Golden, a fourth-year student of mediaeval history and social anthropology who resides on South Street. “I support the proposed changes,” Fiona said. “Making South Street more walkable and adding onto the pavement extensions so there's more café space would be really nice.” At this stage, Stantec has concluded their public consultation period, and any permanent interventions made to the streetscape would require planning permission.
Those wishing to learn more about this project or other sustainable infrastructure projects in Fife can visit Fife Council’s active travel webpage or email firstname.lastname@example.org.