Kirkcaldy waterfront: Hotel and restaurants planned for old Stagecoach bus depot land
Could Louie Browns be coming to Kirkcaldy?
The popular bar restaurant put Dalgety Bay on the map as a destination for food and drink, and now the people behind it have bought up one of the Lang Toun’s biggest gap sites with ambitious plans to breathe new life into it.
Where the old Stagecoach bus depot once stood, picture two bar restaurants and a hotel - not only transforming the abandoned site but creating around 120 hospitality jobs in the process.
The co-directors behind the plan have bought the land and, today, give a first look at what might be coming.
Kieran Fagan and Colin Drysdale have long-standing connections to Kirkcaldy, and a desire to deliver a development that would be a game-changer for the town as it continues to attract more investment and make progress after lockdown.
Kieran ran Kitty McGuinty’s at the peak of its popularity and then launched Society in Charlotte Street.
Colin’s links stretch even further back - his dad ran Drysdale Electrical which sat on the corner of the High Street and Kirk Wynd for many years.
Amongst other business interests he is managing director of Allson Wholesale in Glenrothes, Scotland’s largest independent drinks supplier to the hospitality sector.
Their business, Boardwalk Bars and Bistros, is set to move on to the site next week to start clearing it up and make it secure, ahead of submitting plans for its development.
And part of their vision is bringing the brand of Louie Browns - run by Kieran - to the Lang Toun.
And to do it set against the River Forth - one of the best backdrops in Fife.
The aim is to create a venue which offers quality dining as well as a welcome for anyone stepping straight off the beach with sand in their shoes for a drink or a coffee, and their pet dog in tow.
The ‘indoor outdoor’ approach chimes with life post lockdown where alfresco dining has become more popular than ever.
The 2.5acre site, once home to the old bus depot, would open up stunning views from the top of dunes at the beach across the Forth.
The co-directors aim to deliver the development in phases, starting with the bar-restaurants.
They said: “We start by clearing the site next week, putting fencing back up and making it secure.
“It’s an exciting development - one Kirkcaldy has been needing for a long, long time.
“We hope this helps to kick-start the regeneration of the sea front.”
Visits to the site confirmed its potential, and there’s more to come which could finally transform what has been left as wasteland for many years.
Plans are in hand to re-route part of Fife Coastal Path so walkers stays on the beach and enjoy the coastline rather than having to divert along the side of Morrisons and on to the main road before reaching the Esplanade.
The aim is to build a bridge over the Tiel so they can go from beach to Esplanade without having to step on to the main road.
The hospitality development would almost certainly become a destination stop on their journeys as it sits right on the re-aligned path.
“The site is perfect” said the co-directors. “And the number of people using the waterfront is amazing - it lends itself to this development.
“It is crying out for something like this which is a bit different - the potential offered at the beach front is amazing.”
The co-directors are looking to partner with the right hotel partner to complete the development, and have unveiled an impression of what the development could look like to set the ball rolling.
For Councillor Neil Crooks, it’s another major significant forward for the town.
The west end’s gateway into the Lang Toun used to be the old red shed which housed B&Q and little else.
Now that part of the land has been developed by Morrisons, while Lidl has opened a new store across the road.
A residential development and care village is planned next to Morrisons, and now that work continues with the hotel and restaurants proposal; changes which mirror the on-going work at the opposite end of the waterfront.
Mr Crooks, who is convenor of Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “All of that has helped to change the attitude of people to Kirkcaldy and the waterfront.
“These are major changes, and this development can help to complete the picture.
“Where before there was tumbleweed, now people are arriving in a town that is alive, and that has also created the jobs we need to try to eradicate poverty.”
The development also helps to underpin the Lang Toun’s tourism offering - limited hotel facilities have been an issue in town for some time.
And with the next phases of the waterfront project set to be unveiled, Councillor Alistair Cameron, believes it’s more positive news for visitors and locals.
“Kirkcaldy is vibrant again,” he said. “There are new opportunities for people and investors.
“I’m also delighted that someone with genuinely strong connections to Kirkcaldy is behind the project.
“The land has been bought by two people with a long history with the town, and that gives us all confidence. We know what they bring to the project, and will deliver.”
It’s seven years since the land was first put on the market by Stagecoach after it demolished the old sheds.
Since then, it has sat unused, apart from the annual visit of the showmen for the Links Market.
The imminent arrival of workers on site to start the clear-up operation underline things are about to change.
And change for the better.