Nostalgia: A last-ditch bid to block a Kirkcaldy development

Construction gets underway to build a new housing development at Kirkcaldy harbour in 2005.
Construction gets underway to build a new housing development at Kirkcaldy harbour in 2005.

It is one of the most popular places to stay in Kirkcaldy’s town centre – but the creation of Deas Wharf was not without controversy.

In May 2005 a war of words broke out over the major redevelopment scheduled to take place at the town’s waterfront.

The area before the redevelopment began

The area before the redevelopment began

It faced a last-gasp attempt by local councillors to stop more flats being built at the harbour, amid claims that residential development of the historic dock was ”deleting” an asset which should be the jewel in the Lang Toun’s crown.

Those fighting the erection of a further 45 flats by Penman Homes were narrowly defeated nine votes to eight at a meeting of Fife Council Central Area Development Committee.

Williamson Quay had already been developed at the outer harbour by housebuilder, Morrisons, but the rest of the land running to the flour mill was unused.

The properties proposed by Penman Homes were part of a phased scheme of 161 flats at the harbour site, for which planning permission had been granted in 1998.

Work gets underway...

Work gets underway...

The attempt to curtail the development, led by councillor for the area Albert Ritchie, occurred as the builder returned to the committee, seeking permission to revise part of the original planning permission.

However, the three-storey warehouse-style blocks were given the green-light, with the minor adjustment of the removal of five shops which were originally proposed, and with five additional flats.

Councillor Ron Edwards had argued the harbour should be a place for the public to enjoy.

He said: “We are putting a block of flats into somewhere which should be a jewel in Kirkcaldy’s crown.

“We are doing the harbour a huge disservice. We are talking about enhancing the appearance of an important but semi-derelict site.

“It will no longer be an important site – it will be just be another housing estate.”

Cllr George Leslie agreed, adding: “We are allowing Kirkcaldy harbour to be deleted from the map.

”This is supposed to be a unique site that we would hope would draw people from other areas and we are treating it like any other brownfield site.”

However, Penman Homes hit back at what it said was unnecessary backlash against its redevelopment.

Director Deborah Muir claimed the firm had been unfairly treated by those councillors who criticised using the dock for housing.

She said: “We are trying to make the harbour a jewel in Kirkcaldy’s crown.

“It has lain derelict for years and was overrun with rats. At the end of the day it will be a far better looking area.”

She also said the removal of the five shop units from the scheme was down to Fife Council planners, not Penman Homes.

“We were asked to submit this new application [without shops] because they didn’t want to be seen to be encouraging trade away from the High Street.”

She also said the company was maintaining public access by constructing a pathway which would link into the Fife Coastal Path.

“This company has taken over a derelict site and successfully developed it for Kirkcaldy.

“We are proud of what we have achieved down there; The backlash against it is unnecessary.”

Ms Muir was backed up by Cllr Alex Thomson who rubbished the claim that harbour was a thing of beauty.

“Let’s not pretend the harbour was a beautiful place to behold,” he said, “it was run down and it was an eyesore.”