Kirkcaldy west end re-opens ... now drive is on to change Charlotte Street

The west end of Kirkcaldy High Street is free of roadworks fro the first time since January (Pics by Fife Photo Agency)
The west end of Kirkcaldy High Street is free of roadworks fro the first time since January (Pics by Fife Photo Agency)

It’s the moment the town centre has been waiting on for over a year - the road at the west end of Kirkcaldy High Street is once again open to traffic.

Some work is still continuing on finishing phase three of the High Street regeneration project, but it re-opened to two way traffic on Monday, with all bus services returning to normal.

Now the focus is on re-opening Charlotte Street to connect the High street and the waterfront for the first time in decades.

The news came as relief to business owners who have suffered since work first began in January – and, controversially, overran by almost six months, missing its original deadline of July.

Willie Hodge, owner of Rugs and Runners and a fierce critic of the project, says he has already noticed a difference.

“The main problem was when businesses went to the council for help we were refused,” he said. “The roadworks were killing us and we got no help at all. Absolutely none.

Work to extend Charlotte Street to the Esplanade is expected to be finished before Christmas

Work to extend Charlotte Street to the Esplanade is expected to be finished before Christmas

“We’re not as busy as we should be for this time of year, but we have been a lot better since it opened back up again.”

Cllr Neil Crooks, chairman of Kirkcaldy Area Committee, said he hoped any locals who had been put off visiting the town centre due to the disruption would now return.

“It went on far too long for the outcome but I am delighted with how it looks,” he said.

“I hope that the attractiveness of the area will bring people to the west end of the High Street and help support the businesses who had to suffer for so long.”

Cllr Crooks revealed the committee had also decided to remove some of the west end’s parking restrictions.

“Previously you weren’t able to park in certain parts of the High Street at the west end until after 8pm, which obviously wasn’t helping businesses.

“So it now it’s only restricted until 5pm, making it the same as the rest of the area. There are more parking spaces and people are able to park for longer which will hopefully prove beneficial.

“That was one solution which was taken in consultation with Kirkcaldy4All and the traders.”

Work is also almost complete on opening up Charlotte Street to give it a direct link to the waterfront. It should be completed before Christmas.

“It was a gamble allowing Land Engineering to take it on after the delay at the west end,” Cllr Crooks admitted, “but I have to give credit to the MD. Since he came on board to oversee the project it has been like night and day.

“It’s perhaps been that they’ve worked harder in order to save the company’s reputation after the criticism, but, to be fair, they have delivered and then some. I’m confident it will be completed on time.

Opening up Charlotte Street will make the multi-storey car parks on the Esplanade much more accessible – hopefully leading to greater usage of the new wider parking bays.

Added Cllr Crooks: “The more people use town centre parking, the more it allows someone like me to make a strong case for subsidising it. Parking is a real issue in Kirkcaldy and if people don’t come down then it is difficult for me to sustain the subsidy.”

Cllr Crooks also extended an invitation to the town centre’s critics.

“You do see a lot of negative comments on social media and I would say to those people why don’t you come down and have a look?” he said.

“By doing so you’re helping both the town centre’s businesses and the local economy.”