It’s good to talk - as long as it brings results for Glenrothes

Glenrothes town centre
Glenrothes town centre

People of a certain age will no doubt remember a once popular advert on television with the slogan ‘It’s good to talk’.

And in the wake of the decision by retail giant Tesco to pull out of plans to build a new store in Glenrothes, and with it potentially unlocking the wider aspects of town centre regeneration, every interested party is feeling that same desire to talk.

So much so there has already been a second meeting between the new owners of the Kingdom Shopping Centre - LaSalle - and those in Fife House.

The meeting, which was described as “positive and constructive”, is the latest indicator that the new owners are already already keen to assess what options are available following their acquiring the shopping mall for a reported £34.3 million in September.

Certainly, those at LaSalle are making all the right noises.

Simon Usher, from the investment management company told the Gazette: “Tesco’s decision not to proceed with building a supermarket in Glenrothes has given us clarity on the situation so we can now move forward with alternative plans to improve the town centre.

“LaSalle is committed to regenerating Glenrothes town centre and is working closely with the Council on further development to improve the existing shopping experience by enticing new retailers, restaurants and leisure occupiers to the town.

“We intend to work with both local groups and national retailers as we work towards improving the Kingdom Centre for both residents and visitors to Glenrothes.”

But after a decade of false starts and broken promises those Fife Council will be the first to admit that it will take more than mere words to bring about a the realisation of a new town centre but is already buoyed by the new owners willingness with all those with a genuine desire to bring about a much needed

Following the latest round of talks councillor Altany Craik, chairman of the Glenrothes Area Committee said: “Although the news about Tesco has come as a bitter blow it has also put an end to long-running uncertainty for the town.

“We now have to close that chapter and move on.

“Working with LaSalle I believe we can look at locations where potential developments could take place in the Centre.

“Architects have already been commissioned by the company and we’re looking forward to engaging and assisting where possible on these plans.

“We also stressed the need for them to discuss the implications of the Tesco decision with key stakeholders such as CISWO and the YWCA.

“In the meantime La Salle have already made a positive impact on the centre with 10 of the vacant units re-let in the shopping mall and more activity in the pipeline.

 “We have a commitment from LaSalle that they will work with us on the developing the Town Centre Action Plan and we’ve shared ideas and concepts for the Albany Gate. I’m excited about the enthusiasm and forward thinking we’ve experienced so far and I’m confident that we can continue to work together to help Glenrothes grow and thrive.”

Councillor David Ross, deputy leader of the administration says he is “impressed” by what he’s seen and heard from the new owners so far.

He said: “Although Glenrothes is different from other town centres in Fife because of the single ownership of the main shopping centre, the Council is committed to playing a full part in its future development.

“We are also working to ensure that Glenrothes businesses in the town centre and more widely across the town, benefit from the Council’s business support initiatives such as small business grant schemes, advice through Business Gateway and small business rates relief.”

With the current economic climate continuing to temper growth on the high street, Fife Council will be casting an anxious glance towards its economic development team to help facilitate the new centre owners in attracting new business to commit to plans for the regeneration of the town centre.

The team’s Ross McKenzie said: “We are working to marry the ideas that the centre owners have with the current Glenrothes Town Centre Action Plan.

“We are also seeking ways to work along side them to promote new business and investment opportunities in this town.”

The Gazette understands the regeneration of both ‘ends’ of the Kingdom Centre are a particular focus with a desire to attract a new retailer to the former Co-op store close to Rothes Halls.”

With further meetings scheduled with various involved parties including a newly formed stakeholder group made up of retailers, councillors and community representatives, as well as a March meeting with the Glenrothes Futures Group, it seems there’s plenty more to talk about yet.

The hope and desire of everyone in Glenrothes is that chat can soon be turned into a meaningful kick-start for the much needed regeneration this town deserves.