Restoration project means scaffold up but trade down

Maisie and Mac, Cupar
Maisie and Mac, Cupar

Shopkeepers in Cupar affected by the restoration of the iconic Burgh Chambers have given an assurance that it’s ‘business as usual’.

Contractors have begun to remove the distinctive pink paint from the historic building as part of a project to give it a new lease of life as a holiday let.

But it means it will be swathed in scaffolding all summer – resulting in a loss in trade for businesses nearby.

Worst affected is the gift shop and gallery Maisie and Mac, which occupies the ground floor and basement below the Burgh Chambers.

“I’ve definitely lost money since the scaffolding went up,” said proprietor Alison Strachan.

“My regular customers have still been coming in but we’re losing passing trade –people who stop on the way through Cupar because the shop catches their eye.

“Even some local people think we’re closed because the shop is barely visible behind the scaffolding.”

Ms Strachan told the Fife Herald that she had been assured the restoration project would be completed by October, in good time for the Christmas shopping season.

In the meantime, she remains philosophical about the project, saying that the decaying building had created problems such as leaks in her own premises.

“Even though it’s having a huge impact on business, the work has to be done,” she said.

“After all, this is an iconic building and it’s important that it’s secured for the future.”

The work is part of the Cupar Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) run by Fife Council and Fife Historic Buildings Trust.

It’s funded jointly by Fife Council, Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This is an exciting phase for the project, as the contractors get to grips with external repairs – including starting to remove the striking but damaging pink paint,” said Lorraine Bell, manager of Fife Historic Buildings Trust.

“The repairs to the Burgh Chambers will mean that many people can enjoy the building for years to come. I’d like to stress that it is business as usual for local Cupar shops as the work is ongoing, and I thank local people and the businesses themselves for their patience.”