A new vision for Kirkcaldy town centre - make this one a reality

A revamped shopping centre around the current Postings site
A revamped shopping centre around the current Postings site

Another new vision has been unveiled for the future of Kirkcaldy town centre.

But councillors have vowed it won’t be just another document left to gather dust on the shelves.

Looking down an opened up Charlotte Street towards the waterfront, with jazzed up multi-storey parking

Looking down an opened up Charlotte Street towards the waterfront, with jazzed up multi-storey parking

They have vowed to work together to do everything they can to turn the vision into a reality, tapping into the expertise of other organisations and businesses.

The blueprint – ‘Kirkcaldy Town Centre Design and Development Framework’ – outlines strategic opportunities to reconfigure the waterfront completely, open up Charlotte Street to link it with the Esplanade, develop the Merchant’s Quarter, provide enhanced social space, remove unsightly buildings and replace them with attractive landmarks, and create an open, free-flowing and welcoming town centre space.

It brings together ideas generated through public consultation events organised over the past year by Fife Council, Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions and Kirkcaldy4All.

The vision has been identified as good practice by the Scottish Government and will form part of a publication on practical ways to deliver town centre objectives – an accomplishment hailed as “very significant for Kirkcaldy” by Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy area committee, which unanimously approved the framework at its meeting on Wednesday.

A revamped Forth House building could enhance the Cultural and Heritage Quarter next to Kirkcaldy Galleries

A revamped Forth House building could enhance the Cultural and Heritage Quarter next to Kirkcaldy Galleries

The document envisages a town centre divided into four quarters – the Waterfront, Social Quarter, Merchant’s Quarter and Cultural and Heritage Quarter – assessing the strengths, issues and opportunities for each, alongside a concept to help steer future discussions on delivering projects to make improvements to the area in the short, medium and long term.

Waterfront is a key element to development

The document presented to the committee by Ewen Campbell, urban design planner with Fife Council, was hailed by Councillor Crooks as ‘‘the final piece of the jigsaw’’.

He added: ‘‘I am really chuffed that the Scottish Government is recognising and using it to highlight for other councils and advise them how things should be done. That’s great for Kirkcaldy, and very significant.”

Looking from the end of the Merchant's Quarter back along towards the High Street, with an iconic building at the end and signage

Looking from the end of the Merchant's Quarter back along towards the High Street, with an iconic building at the end and signage

Councillor Marie Penman said she had really enjoyed reading the “very impressive” document.

“I am particularly interested in the waterfront, which is a key thing that we are not using properly,” she said.

“I have spent some time in Dundee and that’s what we should be aspiring to – admitting they have made mistakes, wiping it out and starting again.

“They have opened it up and made a thoroughfare which links the waterfront to the centre, although they did get an extra £600 million investment in their waterfront. How do we get that?”

Public open space could accommodate a cafe area and meeting place on the Esplanade, opposite the new leisure centre

Public open space could accommodate a cafe area and meeting place on the Esplanade, opposite the new leisure centre

Councillor David Ross, council leader, said the town had seen many plans which weren’t followed up.

“We have plans on the table for Charlotte Street and we need to ensure these things happen.

“It is the will of this committee that will make this plan work, along with Kirkcaldy4All and local businesses.

“Let’s use it actively to promote things we all want to see happen.”

Councillor Crooks said money was available to open up Charlotte Street and should be started this financial year.

Councillor Susan Leslie, who travels to Dundee several times a week, replied: “What they have done is tapped into the City of Discovery.

“They have the education and worldwide scientific work, and all that comes together. That’s the bit we haven’t tapped into quite as much.

“Part of the key to this is actually what is being done around the Adam Smith Foundation – that’s part of the key to making this sea change that Dundee has made.”

Councillor Crooks said Dundee’s revamp had been 40 years in the making and Kirkcaldy should concentrate on taking smaller steps.

“There was a hotel opportunity which came up but there were no takers,” he said.