The Scottish Government has rejected a bid to build a “carbuncle” at one of the world’s most iconic sporting locations.
Developers appealed against a decision to refuse planning permission for what one councillor termed “a millionaire’s palace” next to the famous Old Course in St Andrews.
They argued the proposal for four luxury homes overlooking the Swilcan Bridge was a significant improvement on the 1960s-built house currently on the site.
But Conservative Tony Miklinski said he feared the public would think councillors were “numpties” if they approved the application.
Now Scottish Government reporter Claire Milne has backed the stance taken by members of the north east planning committee in October.
She ruled the proposal does not accord with the local development plan and added: “There are no material considerations which would still justify granting planning permission.”
Photographs and a video fly-through
Ms Milne was unable to carry out a site inspection due to Covid restrictions.
Instead, she determined the appeal on the basis of evidence submitted by applicants Athole Reid and Gillian Aspin.
She also used photographs and a video fly-through.
Mr Reid and Ms Aspin wanted to demolish the existing house and replace it with three and four-storey homes.
They say the existing house is no longer fit for purpose and has little architectural merit.
And they argued: “Granting planning permission for the proposed development would facilitate the redevelopment of this sustainable site for new family homes.”
But while St Andrews Preservation Trust described the design as “inspirational”, Ms Milne agreed with objectors.
She said: “I query whether a four-storey block tower is the most suitable solution in this instance.
“As a key entrance into the town, this important view and impression of the traditional townscape would be adversely affected.”
The reporter also agreed with the committee’s fears the development could increase the risk of flooding during extreme weather.
Her decision was welcomed by St Andrews Labour councillor Brian Thomson.
“I’m glad the reporter has agreed with the committee,” he said.
“I wasn’t totally against the overall look of the proposed design but the scale of it was too big for a small site.
“It was so big it would have negatively impacted on the conservation area next to the Old Course.”
Fife Council planners had recommended approval of the bid before it was turned down by councillors.
Mr Miklinski branded the design “literally quite shocking”.
He said if permission was granted the reaction from many people would be: “What kind of numpties approved that?”
Meanwhile, SNP councillor David McDiarmid said the modern design would jar with the neighbouring red sandstone buildings.
“It looks to me like another carbuncle,” he said.