Lidl will fix one site - now let’s tackle the rest of the town’s eyesores

The former Kirkcaldy Swimming Pool is just one of many buildings that are lying empty around Kirkcaldy
The former Kirkcaldy Swimming Pool is just one of many buildings that are lying empty around Kirkcaldy

Last week’s announcement that Lidl will build a new supermarket on an abandoned part of Kirkcaldy’s Esplanade has led to calls to tackle the town’s other eyesores.

The development will give a much needed facelift to the controversial area of the western gateway with attention now turning on other long-neglected areas in town.

The former Tesco store is another

The former Tesco store is another

There are a number of derelict buildings which have stood empty, some for generations as plans to demolish or revive them have come to nothing.

And that has sparked renewed calls for action.

Councillor George Kay said three of the five sites which had been earmarked for redevelopment at Invertiel have now been achieved.

He said: “The next big one is the Stagecoach development.

“I would urge the company to make it a priority.

“I would equally hope now that Lidl is going there it will make it much more attractive for a would-be developer to come and tidy up that part of the town.

“It would make such a difference.”

In 2013 Fife Council drew up a “zero tolerance” action plan to target 12 unsightly building across Kirkcaldy.

Whilst many on the list have since been tackled, including the former Station Hotel and the Nairn’s linoleum works, other sites from the original list, such as the former Co-op gap site on the corner of Oswald’s Wynd and High St remain.

And four years on, new sites can now be added to that list including Tesco and the old swimming pool.

In 2013 Lasalle Investment Management took over ownership of the pool and pledged it would not be left empty, with associate director Simon Usher saying: “It is not our intention to leave the building derelict.”

Four years on, with just a year left until the building is returned to Fife Council, it lies empty and remains a blight on the waterfront.

The former power station on Factory Road is still the cause of much controversy, having lain unused since 1931.

In 2014 councillors approved plans for an 80-bedroomed nursing home on the site owned by United Investments Ltd.

But the ambitious plans to demolish the building to make way for the development and supermarket, with the creation of around 200 jobs, were put on hold when Historic Scotland voiced its opposition, despite it having been closed for over eight decades, and with widespread support for it to be torn down.

It remains on the market.

Cllr Kay said: “I believe there have been several enquiries which have never been followed up.

“It’s an eyesore.

“I’d welcome returning to Fife Council’s planning committee with a new application so they can progress that through quickly.”

David Torrance, Kirkcaldy’s MSP, has also called on the council to get tough with the owners of these neglected sites.

“Kirkcaldy has had problems with derelict properties that have been neglected for a number of years,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of owners to maintain their properties and to prevent them from falling into a state of disrepair.

“It is deeply regrettable that so many have failed to do so responsibly to the detriment of the town.”

Mr Torrance says the council does have the power to act in relation to neglected sites but is failing to do so.

“I strongly believe Fife Council should interact with property owners in areas we all know exist in Kirkcaldy, to be much more proactive in encouraging development and managing these resources, and where necessary to use enforcement action.”

Roy Stewart, senior manager, protective services, said since 2013 a number of buildings and sites, many of which are in private ownership, have been identified as priority dilapidated properties.

“Fife Council have addressed concerns about these properties in a number of positive ways and good progress has been made,” he said.

“In 2015, we produced the Kirkcaldy Town Centre Design and Development Framework.

“This identifies design and development opportunities as well as other interventions to enhance the role, function, attractiveness and success of Kirkcaldy town centre.

“Direct intervention through the “Stitch in Time” project has also improved the facades of buildings in the High Street with the removal of vegetation, clearing of debris and loose material to prevent danger and further damage.

“In addition the Kirkcaldy charrette, held in early 2014, focused on buildings in the Victoria Road corridor.

“The charrette created a shared vision and deliverable land use strategy for the area, intended to shape investment and community decision making over the next 20 years.

“A number of these site are now being progressed.”