Mon 9 May 16
Upgrading of St Andrews' medieval harbour could soon be complete, with the hope that it will breathe new life into the forgotten attraction.
More floating pontoons are to be installed to further improve access for both boat owners and visiting sailors.
Grants of £65,000 have been pledged from Fife Council, St Andrews Common Good Fund and St Andrews Pilgrim Foundation and it is anticipated that a similar sum from European or national funds will allow the next stage of the £350,000 project to begin shortly.
Installation of the first of 48 floating pontoon berths was completed in September 2015 in the first phase by St Andrews Harbour Trust and the remainder will be added in the second phase.
Other improvements will include the addition of water and electrical points, a new lock with landscaping and restaurant facilities.
Few of St Andrews' many tourists venture to the harbour but it is hoped the changes will encourage marine leisure and commercial enterprise and attract more visitors by foot and boat.
Trust chairman Dr Cameron Rae said work would begin as soon as the remainder of the cash was in place.
He said: "It's the start of a long process but we have no doubt that it is going to increase use of the harbour.
"The harbour is an underused resource in the town, given St Andrews is such a Mecca for tourism.
"A good number of people come down and walk around but there's not really much for them to do.
"Our project is about providing that additional attraction but at the same time not becoming overly commercial and ruining the appeal of the harbour."
The first phase has already improved access at the harbour, where previously boats were boarded using vertical quayside ladders.
St Andrews Coastal Rowing Club, which provides sailing opportunities for disabled people, is among users benefiting.
Mr Rae said the first phase of the project had had incredibly positive feedback.
He said: "For the first time, certainly to my memory, there is a waiting list to get into the harbour.
"We support the small fishing fleet we have in St Andrews but we would be delighted to see one or two commercial activities in the harbour, such as sport fishing or eco-trips."
Councillor Frances Melville, chair of the council's north East Fife area committee, said: "I'm delighted that the committee has agreed funding towards this project.
"Not only will there be increased pontoon berths, it is also planned to install water and pontoon lighting and electrical points, which will add to the overall safety and security of the harbour area.
"This project will have a significant impact on the local economy and tourism and we hope it will bring increased work opportunities and leisure spend which will be crucial for the area."
Story from the Courier.