One of Scotland’s top museums has finally escaped the bunker over its bid to create a rooftop café.
Just over a year ago, Fife Council’s North East Fife Area Committee rejected a proposed extension as members said it would impinge upon a view of the world-famous West Sands beach it was designed to overlook and impact on the landscape setting of the neighbouring Royal and Ancient Golf Club listed building.
However, a fresh application has now been unanimously approved by Fife Council’s North East Fife planning committee after councillors were told the orientation of the proposals had been changed.
The proposal is to erect a café at first floor level with 80 seats and an outdoor terrace.
The first floor extension, which will raise the height of the museum by 3.9 metres, would comprise the main café area which would sit on a north-south axis running parallel with Golf Place.
The main body of the proposed café is a rectangular room with triangular spaces at each end.
Recommending conditional approval, Fife Council service manager Alastair Hamilton said that whilst clearly visible, the proposed extension would have a “limited impact” on the West Sands or neighbouring historic buildings.
He said: “In this instance, due to the high quality and well considered design of the proposed scheme, it is considered that the proposed extension and alterations would enhance the appearance of the existing building and visual amenity of the surrounding Bow Butts area whilst preserving the character and appearance of the St Andrews Conservation Area, the historic St Andrews skyline and the setting of the neighbouring listed building.
“Furthermore it is considered that the café extension would enhance the range of facilities at this important tourist attraction, ensuring the long term viability of the museum and benefiting the wider tourist industry and local economy in this area.
“The proposal would not result in any adverse impacts with regards to residential amenity or road safety issues. It is considered that the proposal complies with the terms of the development plan and related national guidance.”
East Neuk councillor John Docherty “applauded” the designers for taking on board the concerns of councillors with the previous application.
St Andrews councillor Dorothea Morrison, who led the opposition with the original proposal, welcomed the redesign. However, with 11 tables proposed for outside, she did have concerns that gulls could swoop down and grab food from tables.
Committee chairman and fellow St Andrews councillor Frances Melville agreed that gulls were a serious problem and there had been a concerted campaign by residents to deal with the issue.
Mr Hamilton said gulls were not covered by planning policy mechanisms but it might be something that could be looked at by environmental health.
Councillor Tim Brett was told that people would be able to access the cafe without visiting the museum.