A veteran campaigner has defended comments she made about Fife councillors’ handling of planning applications submitted by St Andrews University. In an interview with the St Andrews University student newspaper, The Saint, tenacious campaigner Penny Uprichard, who is a member of St Andrews Community Council planning committee, said “the existence of the strategic agreement between Fife Council and the university makes it unlikely that university applications will be refused”. This led to criticism from St Andrews Labour Fife councillor Brian Thomson, who questioned the “reasonableness” of her comments. Mr Thomson said: “Subsequent to the publication of the article, Miss Uprichard has confirmed in an email to St Andrews councillors that she did not use the word ‘bias’. “However, she has also reaffirmed her view that ‘the existence of the strategic agreement between Fife Council and the university makes it unlikely that university applications will be refused.’ “Quite frankly, I view this as a slur on all of the councillors in north-east Fife who have been involved in the determination of planning applications submitted by the university. “Personally, I assess each planning application on its own merits as a councillor should and the fact that I’ve voted to refuse two planning applications submitted by the university since I was elected as a councillor in 2012 clearly demonstrates the inaccuracy of Miss Uprichard’s comments.” But Miss Uprichard stood by her remarks. She said: “Given that the university is the major developer in St Andrews, that the university consortium (the university, Headon Developments and Montgomery Forgan) proposed a minimum of 1,000 houses in the western extension a proposal which was then included in the structure and local plans by Fife Council and was approved in due course that the medical building, the arts building, the purchases of Greyfriars School and a number of other university proposals have been approved, I think my remarks were accurate. “I must also point out to Mr Thomson that during the interview I made it very clear that the views expressed were my own, and that I was not speaking on behalf of community council. “This was not included in the article. “Why does Mr Thomson regard my reference to the existence of the strategic agreement between Fife Council and the university as a ‘slur’? “Why does he think that the agreement, which includes ‘strategic land use’, was put in place?”
Environmental campaigners say they are outraged a tenacious St Andrews campaigner faces a legal bill of at least £173,000. Penny Uprichard has lost her David against Goliath battle to protect her beloved home town from what she describes as a “tsunami” of development. Now support has come from Friends of the Earth, who believe it is wrong she faces such a financial handicap for daring to go to court to stand up for the environment. The veteran campaigner had her case heard by the UK Supreme Court in London at the start of March. She previously failed twice to convince Scottish judges in the Court of Session in Edinburgh they should stop Scottish Government-approved plans to allow builders to increase the size of St Andrews by up to one quarter. Now, five Supreme Court Law Lords have unanimously dismissed Miss Uprichard’s legal challenge against proposals for a minimum of 1,000 houses, a business and science park and a distributor road on the western edge of the town. The proposal was previously granted permission as part of Fife Council’s 20-year plan. The hard-hitting judgment on Wednesday stated the case was “not an appropriate use of the time of this court”. However, Mary Church, environmental justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “No one should have to face such excessive costs for going to court to stand up for the environment. “Scotland is bound under international law to ensure that people can hold governments and public authorities to account in court over decisions that impact on the environment and that legal action is affordable. By no stretch of the imagination is £173,000 affordable.” The European Commission is taking the UK to court over its failure to provide access to justice in environmental cases, particularly in relation to the excessively high cost of legal action. While Fife Council and the Scottish Government have welcomed the failure of Miss Uprichard’s legal challenge, Miss Uprichard herself remains resolute. She says the decision means St Andrews and its landscape are now likely to be “overwhelmed” by development, with the “views of unelected officials taking precedence over those of residents”. Miss Uprichard added the only positive note she can take out of this is that at least the uncertainty of the last four years is over. She believes Scotland’s planning system has become “almost totalitarian” where, she says, there is little opportunity to question, much less oppose, proposals by officials at all levels. She said that to be unable to challenge decisions, except by risking enormous amounts of money, is “not democracy”.
The woman who waged a £170,000 battle to protect her home town from a ‘tsunami’ of development has spoken out again against expansion of St Andrews. Penny Uprichard’s David and Goliath struggle against the Fife Structure Plan went to the UK Supreme Court in London in 2013, but she failed to convince judges to stop the town being “overwhelmed”. As plans progress for St Andrews West, which would see 1,100 new homes built on the edge of the historic town, she issued a reminder of the potential impact. Ms Uprichard said: “St Andrews has been here for 800 years and has evolved over that period. “But this is not evolution, it is destruction for financial gain.” A strategy to extend St Andrews was mapped out by Fife Council in its 2006 Fife Structure Plan, which attracted 2,500 objections. The document also provided the framework for the equally contentious Cupar North proposal for more than 1,400 new homes. A community council leader was quoted 10 years ago stating that Fife Council had a “fixation with economic development at the expense of the environment”. Ms Uprichard said: “Now that the western extension appears to be coming closer to reality, the statement that St Andrews is to become an economic driver for the whole of Fife is even more alarming. “Clearly this goal will not be delayed by any considerations for the environment. “The possibilities for traffic gridlock — first mentioned in a traffic report commissioned by Fife Council in 2003 — seem even more likely. “Nothing can be done to change the town’s medieval street pattern, or the fact that the university and the council have continued to approve developments adding up to thousands of residents and students, without increasing the facilities in the town.” Ms Uprichard said the number of objections to the 2006 structure plan was four times that of any structure plan before it, and she alleged none had been taken into account. She also said the strategy apparently ignored a 2003 study which labelled much of the expansion land as inappropriate for development. Bill Lindsay, the council’s development plan service manager, said: “The St Andrews West strategic development area has been considered, confirmed and approved through various iterations of the development plan over the last 10 years at strategic and local development plan level, including their associated examinations.” He said the 2003 study was taken into account in earlier plans and added: “A further study was commissioned from the same consultant in 2009. This was used to inform the content of the St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan and the landscape mitigation and protection built into policy and the local plan and local development plan.”
Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
St Andrews residents are railing against plans to charge for Sunday parking after prices were hiked across the region. Local woman Penny Uprichard has lodged a formal objection to Fife Council’s proposals on behalf of St Andrews Community Council’s planning committee as efforts to stop Sunday charging gather pace. However, the council refused to back down, stating the hikes were among “tough budgetary decisions” necessary in a time of spending cuts. The authority also dismissed Ms Uprichard’s claim there was insufficient warning about the changes. Ms Uprichard said the charges would have a detrimental effect on visitors, churchgoers and businesses. “To indicate that this is to make charges more consistent across Fife is not correct,” she said. “Parking in Cupar is considerably cheaper than in St Andrews, and in Glenrothes there is a huge amount of free parking. “It is difficult to understand why, with the huge problems of getting into St Andrews and finding somewhere to park, Fife Council should add a further deterrent. “One of the problems is the number of parking spaces which have been removed by the council over the last few years, in South Street and particularly in Market Street, where 25% of the parking was removed during ‘improvements’. “It is increasingly difficult for people living in the St Andrews shopping area to get into the town and buy items in the shops, which is why there are so few individual shops and more and more national and international chains, thus changing the nature of the town centre.” Fife Council approved Sunday car parking charges, both on-street and in car parks, during its budget meeting in February. The local authority said parking tariffs had been frozen since 2011 to encourage people to visit town centres during the economic downturn. But amid increased costs of managing and maintaining car parks, Fife-wide increases for both on and off-street parking, and new Sunday charges, were approved. Soma Raviraj, senior manager for assets, transportation and environment, said: “Unfortunately, we are in a position where we need to save around £91 million over the next three years and, as a result, tough budgetary decisions were made.” The council maintained its parking charges were competitive compared to neighbouring local authorities and private car parks at shopping centres. In accordance with its statutory duty to publish public notices intimating changes to existing Traffic Regulation Orders, the council published changes to parking charges in The Courier on June 10.
St Andrews Community Council has rejected a statement in The Courier regarding shifting of soil to a proposed new golf course at Feddinch. The article said a planning consent clause stated soil would be moved from the new Madras College site at Pipeland. Community council planning convener Penny Uprichard said: “Various applications at Feddinch Mains were approved long before Pipeland Farm became the potential site for a new school. “No such clause about soil transfer exists.” Concerns have recently been voiced about the number of lorries needed to transport soil.
A St Andrews pensioner has lost her David v Goliath struggle to protect her beloved home town from a “tsunami” of development and now faces a legal bill of at least £173,000. Veteran campaigner Penny Uprichard had her case heard by the UK Supreme Court in London at the start of March. She previously failed twice to convince Scottish judges in the Court of Session in Edinburgh that they should stop Scottish Government-approved plans to allow builders to increase the size of St Andrews by up to a quarter. Now five Supreme Court Law Lords have unanimously dismissed Miss Uprichard’s legal challenge against proposals for a minimum of 1,000 houses, business and science parks and distributor road on the western edge of the town. The proposal was previously granted permission as part of Fife Council’s 20-year planning blueprint. In a hard-hitting judgment, Law Lords said the case was “not an appropriate use of the time of this court”. They also fired a shot across the bows of the legal fraternity to bear in mind the privileges they do have and to act accordingly. It stated: “This appeal turned on the construction of particular documents. Although of importance to those affected by the outcome, the appeal did not on examination raise any arguable point of law of general public importance.” A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scottish ministers welcome the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss this appeal. “The court’s decision underlines the validity of the strategy contained in the Structure Plan and the rigorous process of approval by Scottish ministers.” Miss Uprichard said in a statement: “The decision by the Supreme Court to refuse my appeal against the Fife Structure Plan means that St Andrews and its landscape setting are now likely to be overwhelmed by development, with the views of unelected officials taking precedence over those of residents. “The only positive note I can take out of this is that at least the uncertainty of the last four years is over. “The judgment does not seem to reflect the questions put forward in court. The opinion of the judges that the case should not have been brought is at variance with the fact that the court gave me a protective costs order, indicating that there was a case to be heard. “In view of this decision, it seems unlikely that anyone will be able to try to protect landscape through the legal system. “It is also clear that the ‘rights’ of third parties are given a very low priority by local authorities, ministers and judges. “I believe the system has become almost totalitarian, where there is little opportunity to question, much less oppose, proposals by officials at all levels. “To be unable to challenge decisions, except by risking enormous amounts of money, is not democracy.”
Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, I write to congratulate David Clegg on his interesting view on the European financial crisis (Saturday, December 10). His advice that Europe is completely broke/skint is timely. David Cameron did the right thing, not just for the country, but common sense. Opponents declare that we British 'should be in there, playing our part'. Doing what, I ask? Some commentators believe that Sarkozy actually wanted this to happen. It strengthens his desire to have agreement only no treaty ie no signatures which matter, on paper. The other non-Euro countries who have consented to assist (none of them particularly wealthy) may soon be asked to make contributions to the IMF (current and previous heads both French hopefully an irrelevance), to help with 'bailout' payments. Sarkozy's quite blatant snub to Cameron, seen by millions on TV, demonstrated a petty disregard for normal diplomatic courtesies. So much for the 'democratic' EU club. Anyway, we are still full members of the EU, contrary to what many would have us believe, not involved with saving the Euro, and able to apply ourselves to other activities foreign affairs, fishing, agriculture, industrial output etc. Will Michelin and Peugeot close down UK operations? I don't think so. A. T. Geddie.68 Carleton Avenue,Glenrothes. Sensible way to price wine Sir, The two people who wrote about the price of wine may have opinions on the subject which owe more to attacking the SNP Government than the price of wine. Obviously they don't actually buy wine. Anyone who does will have noticed that wine has actually got cheaper since the SNP Government got rid of inducements to buy more than you really want by offering a discount on six bottles. Now, any discount is applied to each bottle purchased so wine in Scotland is cheaper per bottle than elsewhere in the UK where you still have to buy a certain amount to get a discount. One famous wine warehouse actually has a ''Scottish price'' which is cheaper than their price for south of the border. This is what the Scottish Government intended. Three cheers for them for making wine cheaper for the people who only buy an occasional bottle and don't want to buy six bottles to get a discount. To my mind this is a much more sensible way to price wine. Jim Duthie.Gray Street,Broughty Ferry,Dundee. She has the right, but... Sir, I refer to Sandy Alston's letter about the case brought by Penny Uprichard against Scottish ministers and Fife Council. Mr Alston writes that if it were not for people like Ms Uprichard ''unelected people would run rampant over common sense''. Perhaps Mr Alston could remind us who elected Ms Uprichard? If she wishes to take legal action against the government and Fife Council she is perfectly entitled to do so. However she has no right to expect general taxpayers, including me, or Fife council tax payers, including my 89-year-old mother, to bear the significant cost of her futile litigation. (Dr) David B. Griffiths.41 Haston Crescent,Perth. Picked the wrong heroes Sir, Your correspondent Raymond Mennie (Letters December 9) has chosen the wrong British Heroes in Wellington and Churchill. Irish-born General Wellington may have been an isolationist in principle but he was not anti-European. Wellington greatly admired Napoleon, famously saying: ''In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon!'' As for the complex character that was Winston Churchill, who was half-American, well here we have a man who wrote in 1938: ''I have always said that if Great Britain was defeated in war I hope we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position amongst nations.'' After the second world war, and a lesson learnt, Churchill helped initiate the pro-European movement, of which he said in 1948: ''How happy and prosperous would the 480 million people of Europe be if at once they were united.'' I am afraid if Mr Rennie is looking for British heroes on Europe then he is stuck with David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Malcolm McCandless.40 Muirfield Crescent,Dundee. Short, sharp shock worked Sir, Recent mentions of driving fines and bans being changed to jail sentences reminded me of Perth around 50 years or so ago. We had a Sheriff Prain who imposed a 30-day jail sentence on drink-drivers, which had quite a sobering (literally) effect on those who were caught. I don't think many needed a second bout! Tom Fisken.18 Wilson Street,Perth. Excellent ambassadors Sir, Those fortunate enough to attend the Montrose Inner Wheel event held at Taylor's Auction Rooms on Friday afternoon were regally entertained by the pupils of Montrose Academy. The singing was first class and they were excellent ambassadors for both Montrose Academy and the youth of today. I hope we can have less negative press and pessimism surrounding the youth of today. Ian Taylor.Managing director.Taylor's Auction Rooms, Montrose. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.
Time allowed for community councils to respond to planning applications is under review by Fife Council. Following the resignation of the St Andrews community council planning convener the local authority announced it will reconsider the 14-day period permitted for submissions. Penny Uprichard resigned from her post due to the “restrictive” timescales which she said made the role too time consuming. Community councils have seven working days from the publication of weekly planning applications to request to be statutory consultees, giving their objection more weight than that of an individual member of the public. They then have 14 days to lodge their objection or supporting comments. Miss Uprichard said St Andrews must be the most development-prone small town in the UK, with more than 150 plans submitted in the last six months. “St Andrews Community Council only objects to a small proportion of applications, but the time allowed for responses is completely inadequate,” she said. “If community councils don’t comply with these limits they receive an immediate computer-generated letter ruling them out of time. “The system makes no allowance for holidays, illness or applications with hundreds of documents. “The council itself can take up to a year to bring major developments to committee, but is inflexible about community council and public responses.” Miss Uprichard has also been at loggerheads with the council over its insistence that the seven working days from the publication of the list on Mondays ends the following Tuesday rather than the Wednesday. Service manager Mary Stewart said the seven-day process had been reviewed and as the list is published before 1am the Monday counted as the first day. She added: “In practice, community councils will be aware of the submission of many of these applications before the weekly list is published because of the monitoring options available on the planning online system. “In response to the difficulties being expressed by Ms Uprichard, we are currently reviewing the process and time allowed for community councils to then submit their responses.”
A St Andrews pensioner’s David v Goliath struggle to protect her beloved home town from a “tsunami” of development will be heard by the UK Supreme Court in London next week. Veteran campaigner Penny Uprichard failed twice to convince Scottish judges in the Court of Session in Edinburgh they should stop Scottish Government-approved plans to allow builders to increase the size of St Andrews by up to one-quarter. Now judges at the Supreme Court will decide whether the proposals for a minimum of 1,000 houses, a business and science parks and a distributor road on the western edge of St Andrews should be thrown out despite being granted permission as part of Fife Council’s 20-year planning blueprint. If she loses, Miss Uprichard could face considerable financial difficulties. She is already facing a legal bill of £173,000 for her action and subsequent appeal, both of which were thrown out in Edinburgh. This bill, and more, could still have to be paid. However, the Supreme Court allowed her to raise the substantive issues of the development as well as costs. And last year Miss Uprichard made legal history when the Supreme Court confirmed that she was being awarded a Protective Costs Order for the Supreme Court part of her case of £6,000. This means that, if she loses, the other parties Fife Council and the Scottish Government can only claim £3,000 each. It compares with the first two Protective Expenses Orders in Scotland, which limited costs to £40,000 and £30,000 respectively, which Miss Uprichard says made legal action “impossible for most people.” Miss Uprichard claims the Scottish Government’s approval of Fife Council’s structure plan in May 2009 had misrepresented the Alison Grant Study commissioned and published by Fife Council in 2003 that found there was room for limited expansion to the west of the town, on 55 acres. She argued the development would instead need 242 acres and that not enough weight was given to the massive number of objections from the public or to the environmental arguments against the proposal.