A new mixed-use development project has been proposed to safeguard the future of the historic St Andrews Pool in Fife. The pool, which dates back to 1887, is one of the oldest surviving public swimming pools in Scotland and has been closed since 2019 due to structural issues.
A Vision for the Future
The development plan, which is being led by the St Andrews Community Trust and the University of St Andrews, aims to restore and reopen the pool as a community asset, while also creating new residential, commercial, and academic spaces on the site. The project will include:
- A new 25-metre swimming pool with a movable floor, a learner pool, a sauna, and a steam room
- A new fitness suite, a dance studio, and a multi-purpose hall
- A new café and a community hub
- A new hotel with 120 rooms and a restaurant
- A new academic building for the university’s School of Economics and Finance
- A new public square and landscaped gardens
- A new car park and cycle paths
The development plan is expected to cost around £70 million and will be funded by a mix of grants, donations, and commercial income. The project will also create around 200 jobs during the construction phase and 150 permanent jobs once completed.
A Heritage to be Protected
The St Andrews Pool is a Grade B listed building that has a rich history and a strong connection to the local community. The pool was built by public subscription in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and was designed by the renowned architect Robert Rowand Anderson. The pool features a distinctive octagonal shape, a domed roof, and a lantern tower.
The pool has been a popular venue for swimming, water polo, and diving for generations of locals and visitors. The pool has also hosted several notable events, such as the first women’s water polo match in Scotland in 1896, the first Scottish Swimming Championships in 1903, and the first international water polo match between Scotland and England in 1908.
The pool was closed in 2019 after a structural survey revealed serious defects in the roof and the walls. The closure sparked a public campaign to save the pool, which was supported by the St Andrews Community Trust, the University of St Andrews, and other local stakeholders.
A Partnership to be Celebrated
The development plan is the result of a collaborative effort between the St Andrews Community Trust, the University of St Andrews, and other partners, such as Fife Council, SportScotland, and Historic Environment Scotland. The plan has also received positive feedback from the public, who were consulted through online surveys and workshops.
The St Andrews Community Trust, which is a charitable organisation that supports local projects and causes, said that the development plan is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to secure the future of the pool and to enhance the quality of life in St Andrews. The trust said that the pool is a “cherished community facility” that will benefit people of all ages and abilities.
The University of St Andrews, which is the oldest and most prestigious university in Scotland, said that the development plan is a “visionary and ambitious” project that will strengthen the links between the university and the town. The university said that the project will provide a “world-class” academic facility for its students and staff, as well as a “valuable” resource for the wider community.
The development plan is expected to be submitted for planning permission in early 2024, with the aim of completing the project by 2027. The project will mark the 140th anniversary of the opening of the St Andrews Pool and the 700th anniversary of the founding of the University of St Andrews.