Proposed Hub to Future-Proof St Andrews Mediaeval Harbour

19/02/2024
Photo: TOUCH3D

A HARBOUR Hub, aimed at revitalising and future-proofing the town’s mediaeval harbour, could be created in St Andrews.           

St Andrews Harbour Trust, which is responsible for the development, maintenance and promotion of the 14th century harbour, has lodged a planning application to Fife Council to construct a 1.5-storey building for harbour users, the wider community and visitors. 

Welcoming the views and opinions of interested parties, the Trust will shortly embark on a public consultation exercise, including events within the town.

The Historic Environment Scotland A-Listed harbour is part of the St Andrews Conservation Area and an Archaeological Area of Regional Importance (AARI). 

The plans represent a proposal detailed in the Finalised St Andrews and East Fife Local Plan (2009), the East Sands Urban Design Framework  (2010) and FIFEplan, the current Local Development Plan (2017).

For many decades, a Portacabin-style building has housed the harbour café, with the ground annually leased by the existing tenant and café owner.

Working with Newburgh-based Planning and Architectural Consultants A S Associates, the proposal is to create a fresh, modern look featuring a mix of wood cladding and render to complement the nautical surroundings, together with a zinc roof.

Having already consulted and secured agreement from the existing café operator and held talks with local bodies, the Trust is now seeking input from the wider community.

Construction of the building is likely to use structural insulated panels (SIPS), which are lightweight, sustainable, and capable of being erected in a short space of time, minimising disruption and any impact on the commercial interests of the café operator.

Pending consent, the team hope to start construction off-season when the existing café would traditionally be closed for business.

The ground floor of the proposed, replacement building, which will extend the existing footprint by 130%, will house an accessible café with seating for 20 diners.   With a fully-equipped kitchen and facilities befitting a commercial café, sliding doors would open out to a covered area accommodating an additional 20 diners. Overdue, dedicated, accessible marine facilities (toilet/shower) will also be available to the growing number of berth holders and owners of visiting vessels.

The upstairs area will house a much-needed office and operational space for the St Andrews Harbour Master, providing sweeping views of the harbour and monitoring vessel movements.

With a balcony overlooking the harbour and East Sands, the upstairs area will also house a flexible meeting space for community groups and a small café overspill area.  Externally, the proposal also includes improvement of the public space in relation to surfacing and accessibility.

The Trust is seeking funding for the project through the Tay Cities Deal, a partnership between local, Scottish and UK Governments and the private, academic and voluntary sectors. Representing an investment of around £0.5M, the application is a part of the Tay Adventures Project and has the support of Fife Council.  

The Tay Cities funding is ringfenced for the development of the harbour and cannot be used for maintenance or repair.  Separately, the Trust’s fundraising campaign to repair and future-proof the harbour in light of recent and continued storm damage is ongoing.

Ken Sweeney, Chair of St Andrews Harbour Trust, said, “St Andrews Harbour is both a vibrant working harbour and a much-loved and valued part of the town’s landscape, attracting thousands of local residents and tourists to enjoy every year.

“Such an important historical and commercial asset is deserving of high-quality facilities which will not only meet the practical needs and expectations of harbour users but the wider community.

“Having maintained and protected the harbour for over 125 years, every effort is therefore being made to create proposals which are sensitive to the historic asset of St Andrews Harbour and its location within the wider Conservation Area, benefitting both the function of our working harbour and the aesthetics of the area.

“While the proposals will generate significant benefits for harbour users, visitors and the town as a whole, we are acutely aware of the sensitivities of the area and will strive to be as open and transparent throughout the process as possible. As a matter of respect and courtesy, our priority was always to engage with the existing tenant and café owner first, after which we will consult local residents, harbour users and, thereafter, the wider St Andrews public, including students.”

Sam Stone, Director, A S Associates, said, “The proposed Harbour Hub acts on the recommendations of Fife Council from its study of Fife’s harbours and design framework for the East Sands/Harbour area,  dating back more than 10 years.  These include supporting the Harbour Trust to improve the harbour and its facilities and the replacement of the Harbour café.

“The Hub’s design has evolved around meeting the needs of its users including the Harbour Master with good views of the harbour and out to sea, as well as a café/meeting space and toilet/shower facilities.  The building design is simple, with traditional form but using contemporary materials, aiming to sit comfortably within but without dominating its harbour setting.” 

St Andrews Harbour Trust is a Trust Port Authority, an independent statutory body and charity, with a board of voluntary trustees and two appointed Fife Councillors.

For more information, visit www.standrewsharbourtrust.org or the St Andrews Harbour Trust’s Facebook page.

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