A £20 million plan which will see 400 university staff relocate from St Andrews to the Eden Campus at Guardbridge has been unveiled.
St Andrews University has formally submitted an ambitious blueprint to transform the former paper mill at Guardbridge into a modern working environment for key staff.
The university has already invested £25 million in an award-winning green energy centre at the Eden Campus which pumps hot water four miles to St Andrews to heat university buildings.
University chiefs say the latest project will involve the sensitive restoration and refurbishment of historically significant buildings to create state-of-the-art office space, storage for library stock, a canteen and associated parking and landscaping.
A key part of the development will be a café which will be open to the public as well as university staff.
A new entrance to the campus will also be created to reconnect the community of Guardbridge to the site and make it accessible to the public for the first time in more than 150 years.
The plans provide office space for 500 people and it is anticipated around 100 jobs will be created during the two-year construction and fitting out phase.
Derek Watson, University of St Andrews Quaestor and Factor, said: “This is a major strategic move for the university which will provide an exceptional working environment for our staff, breathe new life in the local economy of Guardbridge and have a beneficial impact on the town of St Andrews.
“We are committed to rejuvenating the former paper mill site and the development will result in the reuse of existing buildings, introduce a modern yet sympathetic new entrance into the site, and foster a sense of vibrancy and vitality.”
The relocation of staff to Eden Campus will also go a long way to easing the pressure on office and parking space in St Andrews, and will similarly release space in the town centre and North Haugh for teaching and research purposes.
The submission of the formal planning application to the local authority has been welcomed by local politicians, with plans in place for a phased relocation of staff to the new campus from the end of 2019.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said: “The relocation of staff to the Eden Campus shows a commitment by the University to St Andrews and the local community.
“This will be a huge boost for Guardbridge and create opportunities for local businesses as well as having the potential to free up space and ease congestion in St Andrews.”
North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins added: “This investment is hugely significant and another indication of just how committed the university is to creating a centre of excellence at the former paper mill site.
“The biomass energy centre, on the eastern side, has already attracted sustainability awards and these ambitious plans for Eden Campus will further regenerate another derelict area, attracting inward investment and offering huge opportunities for education, research and development.
“The relocation of 400 staff from the centre of St Andrews will also, I hope, bring significant benefits for the community and the local economy and I very much welcome the fact some areas like the café will be publicly accessible, creating greater links between the community and the university.”