Fresh hope as demolition starts on old pool and bus depot

The demolition of the swimming pool has begun.
The demolition of the swimming pool has begun.

Slowly, but surely, the town centre landscape is beginning to change.

We declared that 2018 was the Year of Delivery for Kirkcaldy – and, finally, talk is giving way to action.

It is hoped that the old pool site could house a new cinema

It is hoped that the old pool site could house a new cinema

Just a few weeks into the new year and there is clear progress on demolishing two long-standing eyesores.

• IN PICTURES: swimming pool demolition begins

The town’s old swimming pool is starting to come down, and the old bus depot next to The Basin car park is slowly disappearing from the landscape.

Behind the fenced-off areas, piles of rubble are starting to pile up as the frameworks are taken down piece by piece – the first steps towards clearing the landscape for new development and opportunities which are key to the future of our town centre.

As part of our Year of Delivery campaign we revisited all of the key projects to get an update to keep our readers informed.

We will continue to do so throughout 2018 – no matter how awkward some of the businesses and developers seem to be when it comes to answering simple questions.

Our view is simple.

These are projects that are in the public eye.

The people who live here are entitled to know what is happening, what the next steps are, and the timescale involved.

The multiplex cinema is key to the revival of our town centre’s economy.

Demolishing the old pool takes us one significant step closer, but LaSalle, the owners of the Mercat who bought the land for a token £1 four years ago, also need to secure an operator and then make the cinema happen.

The removal of the old bus depot, once the hub of local transport, opens up that area for potential development – in turn that sparks a new debate on how we link the gateway to the town centre, if, indeed, we can?

And what of Lidl’s move to the the land opposite on the Esplanade?
It’s been a full year since the discount supermarket got the green light to build a bigger store around the corner from its current one, yet there is no evidence of progress.

• READ MORE: New Lidl store on hold

In this feature we asked each of the parties to tell us – and you – what has been happening, and what is going to happen in the coming months.

They have key parts to play in the Year of Delivery – our job is to remind them of that, and push them for updates to ensure words turn to action, and we get the town centre we need for 2018 and beyond.

The former Stagecoach bus depot at the west end of the Esplanade has been unused by buses since 2004.

However until a few years ago it continued to act as an additional storage and engineering facility for the company.

More recently it has fallen into a state of disrepair and become an eyesore.

It was used temporarily in 2007 for Stagecoach’s two week cross-Forth hovercraft trial and the area was earmarked for a new terminal building for the hovercraft service, however after Edinburgh refused to grant permission for one on their side of the water in 2011, Brian Soutar abandoned his plans.

Since then other plans have been mooted, but nothing has come of them, although the site is still deemed an important one for the gateway to Kirkcaldy by council planning officers.

In January 2014 Kirkcaldy councillors welcomed the news that the former depot was to be put up for sale, but it failed to attract any buyers and is now in the process of being dismantled.

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: “The former depot building is not usable in its current state. As such, we plan to clear the area and hope to put the land on the market in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, demolition work has begun at the site of the old swimming pool on the promenade, raising hopes that it could pave the way for a new cinema.

Mercat owners LaSalle were given a five-year option on the old pool building in 2013, with the understanding that if no progress is made then it would revert to Fife Council.

With the deal now in its fifth year, work has begun to bring the building down from the inside.

A spokesman for Mercat Shopping Centre said: “Mercat Shopping Centre is an important community hub in the heart of Kirkcaldy and we are committed to ensuring that it continues to provide a vibrant retail and leisure offer.

“We have just begun demolition of the swimming pool which, due to the nature of the building, will be a complex process as it will be demolished from the inside out.

“Talks are still ongoing with a number of cinema operators about taking the space, which will provide much needed leisure options for the town in what continues to be a challenging retail and leisure market.”

Demolition work is set to last until autumn this year.

As for Lidl ‘s big move to the end of the Esplanade ... it’s on hold.

The company confirmed to the Press that work wouldn’t start until NEXT year.

A brief statement said: “At present we are focusing on the modernisation of our existing portfolio of stores and the building of new expansion stores.

“We aim to begin the relocation of our Kirkcaldy store early in 2019.”

The news will come as a disappointment to councillors who gave the green light to a planning application 13 months ago with the expectatation of a presentation and then the start of work on site.