Plans for a major expansion of St Andrews have been approved by councillors.
The scheme involves around 900 new homes, a business park and shops, forming part of the St Andrews West Strategic Development Area, which includes the new Madras College currently being built at Langands and the new link road.
The development will cover swathes of agricultural land south of the Swilken Burn and on both sides of Strathkinness High Road and is likely to take several years to complete in a series of phases.
Subject to detailed planning applications being approved, a field northwest of Andrew Melville Hall is targeted for work in the early stages. The area has been zoned for employment land and for use by St Andrews University.
A report before Fife Council’s north east planning committee said the developers believed a year was enough time for uncertainty around Covid-19 to “dissipate somewhat” and allow them to market the site.
Councillors approved the application despite objections from Hepburn Gardens Area Residents Association, the Confederation of St Andrews Residents Associations and St Andrews Community Council.
Concerns included the size of a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians, which would link the development to Doubledykes Road via Hepburn Gardens, as well as the potential loss of hedgerows and trees.
Councillors were assured that there would be a chance to consider details later in the process and that the current agreement was for the overall development.
Case officer William Shand said: “At this stage we aren’t looking at the detail of the proposal, we’re setting out a timetable and the principle of what could be achieved.
“That is all going to be explored. Coming forward with a detailed proposal is a good seven or eight years away, at least, before this would be required of a development scheme.”
The committee was told around 12 acres of employment land will have to be provided before the completion of the 150th newbuild home.
Construction activities will move west across the site before the areas to the south of the site are developed in a project likely to take two decades to be fully realised.
A “local centre” will feature new homes built to the west and south of the development site.
Councillors were told there had already been interest from a potential housebuilder.
Mr Shand said: “It’s a long term project, it’s not going to go up in a couple of years and it’s going to be a phased project.”
In response to concerns about the environment, he said hedgerow would be replaced and the majority of trees across the site would be kept.