A charity has been thwarted in its bid to take over Fife Council’s customer services centre in the middle of St Andrews.
The St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEN) had sought approval for a community asset transfer for the site in St Mary’s Place.
It was aiming to turn it into a community hub which would include office space for local businesses.
However, Fife councillors have knocked back the request, saying there was not insufficient evidence of how the proposal would be funded.
They also said the projected benefits were not enough to justify the loss of council services currently provided there.
Elected members heard the local authority would have had to take a minimum £400,000 hit, since StAndEN was offering £100,000 to acquire the building compared to the £500,000 figure quoted by the organisation’s own surveyors.
Tim Kendrick, community manager, told councillors the price was likely to come in “significantly higher” if it was sold on the open market.
Mr Kendrick said the financial viability of the project had been classed as “weak”, with no applications made to date towards the estimated £1.6 million needed to make necessary changes to the building.
“While this is not surprising given that the building is not owned by StAndEn the repurposing of the building and the business model are inextricably linked which does not give any confidence that the proposals are financially viable,” he said.
The centre currently houses customer services and Citizens Advice and Rights Fife (CARF), both of which would have to relocate to Cupar if the plans were approved.
Members of Fife’s assets and corporate services sub committee formally turned down the plans this week.
Committee member Councillor Graham Ritchie noted: “It’s not difficult to imagine what the council coffers could do with that amount of money.
“The group’s aims are laudable, but so are the functions that the council are carrying out there.
“It’s a wonderful building, an iconic building, and I think it would be worth a lot more than £100,000 to anybody else in other circumstances.”
StAndEN is now considering its next move. It said the recommendation to refuse its request had not been based on a “fair and balanced assessment” and the benefits from its proposal had been “underestimated”.