A backdrop to one of the sporting world’s most iconic locations could be altered by construction of contemporary housing.
One of the houses closest to historic Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course in St Andrews could be demolished to make way for four modern townhouses.
The old stone bridge between the first and 18th fairways of the course is one of the most photographed spots in the sport and the historic town.
Some of the world’s most famous golfers have been pictured on the shepherds’ crossing, thought to be more than 700 years old, including Old Tom Morris, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
The owners of Fairways, on The Links, have applied to Fife Council for permission to demolish the 1960s-built house and replace it with a row of luxury homes designed by a firm of award-winning architects.
If given the green light, the high-end houses will overlook the spot where Open winners have held aloft the Claret Jug.
The proposal has garnered a mixed response in the town.
St Andrews Preservation Trust said the design of the three and four-storey homes is “inspirational” while the town’s community council criticised it as over-development.
Penny Uprichard, planning convener of the community council, warned the council: “Hundreds and possibly thousands of people take photographs from the Swilcan Bridge during the year, and from the steps to the first tee from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.
“Many of them will not wish to include the proposed buildings in their photographs as they are not typical of St Andrews, nor of the conservation area.”
Preservation trust planning convener Dorothea Morrison said the four houses would “demonstrate how well 21st Century architecture can fit into a small historic town”.
Architects Sutherland Hussey Harris were also behind the town’s Westburn Lane flats which were named the best building in Scotland by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland in 2015.
Charles Hussey said a similar approach had been taken to the design for Fairways.
He said: “This is a very sensitive site and it calls for something of high aspiration.
“We are all too aware that any contemporary architecture in a highly sensitive site creates mixed opinion and I would worry if it didn’t.
“We were asked to look at locating four townhouses on the site that were appropriate to the surroundings and contemporary in their language to reflect the 21st Century we live in but sympathetic to St Andrews.
“We are confident that if this is granted planning permission it will be a fantastic addition to the city fabric.”
Applicant Athole Reid and Gillian Aspin, who own the existing two-storey house, intend to keep two of the new houses and sell the others.