A PLAN which charts a new future for Levenmouth has been unveiled.
Fife Council has spent five months on the blueprint that maps out the priorities over the next 10 years.
At its core are employment, education and environment.
Borne out of discussions between Fife Council and the local sustainable communities group, the plan was hatched in a bid to relieve a focus on the area’s negative image by specifically improving the area’s employment, education and environment possibilities.
Although it will evolve year-on-year, the three main priorities will remain a constant for the council.
It’s hoped that the focus in local employment will help reduce the number of low income households in Levenmouth by maximising the potential of areas such as the Energy Park and employers including Diageo.
There will also be a greater focus on ensuring that new and existing businesses within the area are well supported.
Raising educational attainment and reducing educational inequality is the second key priority.
This will include a range of action plans to halt poor performance, such as attempting to reverse truancy levels, drawn up while also offering pupils an easier link to further training and work placement opportunities.
Finally, Levenmouth’s physical environment has also been targeted for improvement.
It’s hoped this will make the area a more attractive place to live and work in, and will involve improving infrastructure and increasing recycling.
A report on the plan, submitted to the Levenmouth area committee - where members roundly accepted it will provide the area with a strategic vision for improvement in the coming years - says: “We want the towns, villages and communities that make up Levenmouth to flourish into the future.
“Levenmouth will be a place of opportunity and will rid itself of disadvantage and poverty.
“It will be a leading centre for renewable energy, and where educational and economic opportunities exist for young people and adults alike.
“Levenmouth will look after its environment and will become an attractive place where people feel safe and aspire to live, work and visit.”
The plan has been welcomed by the area’s councillors, who claim it will ensure Levenmouth will be a “different place” in 10 years’ time.
Councillor David Alexander said the plan had been five months in the making and made possible by more powers being devolved from Fife House to local committees.
He added: “We have come a long way in ensuring the area committee has more political control.
“I think this plan will ensure that, in 10 years’ time, Levenmouth will be a different place than it is today.
“We are already turning the corner. A lot of what we’re looking to do is about jobs and making sure our people are trained for these jobs.
“When the announcement was made about the Energy Park in Aberdeen, people were flocking to the stand where Fife was based, wanting to know more.
“Where companies like Samsung go, others will follow.”
Councillor Andrew Rodger added that more needed to be done to attract people into Levenmouth.
He said: “People come off the bridge and they keep going straight up the motorway until they hit St Andrews.
“We need to encourage them to come to places like Levenmouth.”
“No one can hide from the deprivation in this area.”
The plan details a variety of actions to help meet the three priorities economy, environment and education. Here are some of the highlights.
Unsurprisingly, the Energy Park, Diageo and Sainsbury’s are considered key to the future employment needs of Levenmouth.
With a new bottling hall to open at the Banbeath Diageo site in the summer, the promise of 800 jobs at the Energy Park by 2019, an opportunity to improve existing retail opportunities in Leven town centre and Sainsbury’s expansion, a need for a collective Levenmouth vision has been identified to help boost the local economy.
Improved connections between Leven town centre and the Energy Park will help to achieve new confidence and investment from business into the area.
A regeneration programme for vacant commercial sites, particularly in Methil and Buckhaven, is to be drawn up to improve investment potential.
In the meantime, large vacant shops will be disguised or temporarily filled.
Flexible business grants will also be offered.
For Levenmouth to blossom, the area needs to be more physically attractive, according to the plan.
Various projects are already in the pipeline to help achieve this, including a commitment to develop the area’s greenspaces and town centres.
The plan suggests the “poor quality” of Levenmouth’s greenspaces is reducing its potential for improving health and is contributing to incidences of anti-social behaviour.
Opportunities to improve the environment will take the form of large scale plans such as the biomass plant at Cameronbridge, and also on the smaller scale through improving playpark provision and the delivery of three allotment sites in East and West Wemyss and Buckhaven.
Some smaller-scale environmental improvement works have already started after a review of the area’s green and brownfield sites.
The plan states it anticipates some difficulties with constant financing of this.
Education, education, education. The plan outlines guidance on everything from improving basic literacy standards in Levenmouth schools to forging stronger links between senior pupils and the wider workforce with employers.
This will be achieved in part by extending current training opportunities for those ready to enter the workplace and providing specific training for the kind of jobs which Levenmouth is prepared to host, most obviously those in the renewable sector.
School work experience opportunities will be spread across the year, instead of the current one week in June.
An awareness centre at Kirkland High School is due to open this year, which will “enhance understanding” of energy and renewables opportunities.
A specific literary and numeracy project is to be developed to help remove this significant barrier to employment for as many people in the community as possible.