The cost of developing the former electricity power station on Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Road would not be too high to price it out of future building ventures.
That’s the claim of seasoned housebuilder David McKeown, managing director of Forth and Clyde Properties, who has just completed a project which has converted a fomer listed factory unit in Kirkcaldy’s Gallatown into an attractive block of affordable flats.
He says that keeping the frontage of the B-listed former power station would only raise the costs by around 15 per cent, which would not deter any company serious about developing the site.
Mr McKeown, who has been in the building industry for over 20 years, says he has worked on around 100 such projects over the years, with great success, and is considering putting in a bid to develop the power station building.
Working alongside Fife Council, Forth and Clyde Properties has transformed the former derelict Hawkleymuir linen factory, which dates back to 1853 and was owned by the grandfather of former depute Tory leader Michael Portillo.
Like the former power station building, it too is B listed and it was also on the Buildings at Risk register before it was taken on by Forth and Clyde, and converted into five single-bedroomed, ground floor flats which are suitable for people with disabilities, with another five duplex two-bedroomed flats above.
The rest of the site has 11 new build three and four-bedroomed houses, all of which are affordable rent properties.
“When I read the story in last week’s Press about the site costing millions to develop, I was a bit surprised, because it need not cost nearly that much,” said Mr McKeown.
“The bottom line is that it costs roughly 15 per cent more to renovate the existing building than it would to build from new, so if something was, for arguments sake, going to cost £1000 per metre to build from new then that would only rise to around £1150 to renovate.
“On the scale of the whole development I reckon you could build arund 50 units in the power station easily and although it would cost a little more, you would be able to get that back; it is not irretrievable, and definitely would not cost millions.”
Mr McKeown said that there had been interest expressed from other parties in the past.
“I think it is good to keep the historical past of a town where possible, within the limits of common sense and, speaking from experience, this would definitely be possible with this building without the costs making it too expensive.
“We managed it with Hawkleymuir and it worked very well.”