A long-awaited new home for Madras College has been given the green light.
There was a round of applause as plans for the £50 million secondary school for St Andrews were unanimously approved by Fife Council’s north east planning committee on Wednesday.
Construction of the three-storey building with space for up to 1,450 pupils at Langlands is expected to start in May.
It is hoped the state-of-the-art facilities could be completed in February 2021, with pupils moving in before the summer holiday — nine years after the local authority had originally intended.
The council committed to replacing Madras College’s ageing buildings in South Street and Kilrymont Road in 2008 but the project suffered a series of setbacks, including a successful legal challenge to an alternative site in 2016.
Approval of the planning application for the school has delighted families who had grown frustrated by years of delays.
Fay Sinclair, chairwoman of the council’s education and children’s services committee, said: “This is really good news and another step closer to having a new Madras College on a single-site, with all the benefits you would expect from a modern, purpose built school.
“Madras College already offers our children an excellent educational experience but this can only be enhanced by having the learning and teaching taking place in up-to-date classrooms, which have been specially designed, built and equipped to support the very best of 21st Century education.
“Under the Building Fife’s Future programme we have already seen five high schools and two primary schools built, occupied and going from strength to strength.
“It is not before time that the pupils of Madras are being given the same chance.”
The council also ruled out a suggestion at Wednesday’s meeting that the school may go by a new name.
Work began on the road to the Langlands site, next to St Andrews University playing fields, last year.
Councillors were warned that a delay in granting permission for the building could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and see the programme slip if the contract was not awarded in the first week in February.
As the master plan for the St Andrews West strategic development area (SDA), in which Langlands sits, has yet to be approved the school is considered contrary to the development plan.
However, councillors were told the potential impact on the SDA was outweighed by the urgent need for the school.