Mercat plan abandoned?

Entrance to The Mercat shopping centre in Kirkcaldy
Entrance to The Mercat shopping centre in Kirkcaldy
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FIFE Council remains committed to pursuing the development of Kirkcaldy town centre.

John Beare, chairman of the Council’s planning committee, said the local authority would still be open to discussions with the owners of the Mercat, City Site Estates (CSE), to find a way to progress the plans.

He made the comments in the wake of a statement issued by CSE which suggested they now intend to scrap proposals to extend the Mercat and bring in a multi screen cinema along with other leisure facilities.

The move follows last Thursday’s decision by elected members to grant outline planning permission for a supermarket at Invertiel.

Jim McCain, group property director at CSE, said: “We are very disappointed by the decision of Fife Council to grant outline permission for a retail development at Invertiel.

Officers’ refusal

‘‘The recommendation from the planners for refusal clearly states that it is against the local plan and will be detrimental to the town centre.

“We have always said that without an anchor supermarket our scheme cannot go ahead and this decision means that Kirkcaldy will now be deprived of the additional amenities proposed in our scheme, such as a multi screen cinema, bowling alley, food court and hotel.”

He added: “We remain committed to the Mercat and the town centre.”

Councillor Beare, who lodged a motion to refuse the Invertiel plans at last week’s full Council meeting, said he was ‘surprised’ at the speed of the response by CSE.

But he accepted the move had always been a likely consequence of the decision made last week.

He said: “I understand CSE is still leading the way forward to progress the development of the Mercat and I am not aware of any change on the Council’s part.

Discussions

‘‘I am sure there will be discussions with CSE on decisions that have to be made.

‘‘I can’t see any reason why the Council could not engage with CSE to see what can be done to re-develop Kirkcaldy town centre.

“This move by CSE was a likely consequence of approving outline plans for a supermarket at Invertiel but when councillors are making decisions on planning applications they can’t be whipped into line, they are making their own decisions.

‘‘The owners of the Mercat did object to the Invertiel plans and this was open to members.”

He continued: “I am not aware if CSE is still continuing talks with Tesco - this is a private investment decision - but the Council is still keen to work with all parties.

‘‘I hope this is not a knee-jerk reaction by CSE and that they are still open to discussions.”

He added: “This is a decision the Council and the people of Kirkcaldy will have to live with.”