St Andrews visitors and residents will not be getting a mobile seaside sauna after the plans were rejected by the North East Fife planning committee on Wednesday.
Judith Dunlop, the owner of Elie Seaside Sauna, wanted to open a new mobile sauna at the Golf Museum Car Park in St Andrews.
Located within both the settlement boundary for St Andrews and within the St Andrews Conservation Area, Mrs Dunlop said the new unit would have “enhanced tourism and recreation opportunities” in the area.
However, the plans were rejected to protect the scenic coastal views and the wider conservation area.
“It is recommended that the application be refused in the interests of protecting visual amenity,” a committee report stated.
“The proposed sauna unit […] would result in a detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the surrounding area/coastal environment and is as such out of keeping.”
A public letter of objection put it more succinctly: “Placing a towering six-metre shipping container on the beachfront to obstruct the breathtaking sea view for the public is an outright travesty and an affront to the beauty that should be enjoyed by all.”
The objector continued: “The beachfront and its sea view must unequivocally remain a public right and utility, accessible to all, rather than being monopolised for the exclusive enjoyment of the privileged few.”
However, supporters believe that the sauna would have been a “great asset” to St Andrews.
“Seaside saunas are a celebration of the region’s coastal heritage, and provide a wonderfully diverse and impactful experience for the wild swimming community and many more beyond,” a letter of community support stated.
The application for the St Andrews sauna unit came on the heels of the Elie Seaside Sauna’s success. According to planning statements, Mrs Dunlop’s sauna in Elie has been “hugely popular and successful.”
“Having operated in Elie over the winter, it has become apparent that much of the demand for its services comes from St. Andrews, with local residents, students, tour operators and other visiting tourists all travelling to Elie to use the sauna on a regular basis,” a planning statement said.
“This demand has grown to the point that [Mrs Dunlop] has been repeatedly asked if and when a similar development will be available in St Andrews.”
In total, the application attracted 23 letters of objection and six letters of support from members of the public.
When put to a vote, planning committee members sided with the objections 8-4 – ultimately refusing the proposals.
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