Kirkcaldy is well placed to turn round the fortunes of its ailing town centre but must strive to find a unique selling point as part of its efforts to attract visitors.
That’s the view of Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transportation, Infrastructure and Connectivity, whose remit includes town centres, when he visited the region this week.
Commenting on the recent blow to the town’s fortunes with a number of high profile retailers including Marks & Spencer and BhS closing stores, Mr Matheson said there needed to be discussions about possible alternative uses for some of the vacant stores, as well as looking at other ways to promote the High Street.
And he said the Lang Toun, with its organisations already striving to reverse the tide of Kirkcaldy’s town centre demise, was doing more and was better placed than many Scottish towns of a comparable size to bring about some level of success.
“As we know, town centres across Scotland are under tremendous pressure because of the rapid growth in online retail with many big names leaving our town centres,” Mr Matheson told the Press.
“We have the Town Centre First policy working with COSLA in which we look at approving businesses in the town centre as a priority as opposed to out of town retail parks.
“Additionally we recognise the need for towns to create a unique selling point for our town centres as well as looking to repopulate them with housing opportunities.
“Finding alternative uses for some of the vacant buildings either by way of community use or developing some for use as flats.”
Mr Matheson said that connecting the High Street to assets such the planned waterfront redevelopment, tourism opportunities and leisure attractions such as a potential cinema, were all positives that the town must build upon.
“There’s no easy fix but Kirkcaldy is doing the right things in trying to adapt to the changing economic climate.”