Kirkcaldy has shown the patience of a saint waiting for these projects to get this far. 2018 MUST be the year they are delivered. Nothing else is acceptable.
A number of important projects for Kirkcaldy town centre are starting to come together.
From the plans for the new Lidl store at the western entrance to the town, to the demolition of the former bus garage eyesore; reducing the dual carriageway to a single lane, the new cinema and King’s theatre plans as well as news that the huge gap site left by BHS on the High Street could soon be filled, all in the pipeline, 2018 could be an exciting year for the Lang Toun.
Planning permission for the new, larger store, just a few hundred yards along from its current location, was granted in January with conditions that it provides landscaping to the road frontage to make it look more attractive.
And just across the road at the site of the former bus depot it seems that final confirmation that plans for a hovercraft terminal are quite literally dead in the water, with Stagecoach confirming that it preparing to demolish the old eyesore buildings to put the land up for sale.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: “The former depot building in Kirkcaldy 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.”
Another eyesore in the Links has also been removed with the demolition of an unused building adjacent to Stocks’ carpet store.
Various options to reduce the Esplanade dual carriageway to a single lane with parking at the east end to cater for the King’s Theatre plans are also moving ahead.
Meanwhile the long-awaited promise of a new cinema complex for the town is becoming more of a reality with a detailed planning application lodged and moving through the necessary channels, which could be the catalyst for rejuvenating the town’s night time economy and bringing more bodies into the town centre.
Alongside the plans for the Adam Smith visitor centre off the High Street and news that there could soon be a new occupant for the former BHS store which has stood as a huge gap in the pedestrianised area for almost 18 months, and the new year could bring a new lease of life to the tired old town.
Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the Kirkcaldy area committee told the Press that tourism will be a big focus over the next five years, with events such as the recent Bavarian Beer and Music Festival and the Beach Highland Games attracting thousands to the town centre and beach area,
He said: “Making our area a better place to live, work and play is ultimately the collective goal and despite all the challenges of budget cuts and austerity welfare reform and unemployment, if we work for the many and not for the few then hopefully local people and visitors will reap the benefit of our endeavours.”
Bill Harvey, chairman of Kirkcaldy4All, which promotes the town centre, added: “The past six years have been very difficult for our town centre, like most others in central Scotland due to a change in the public’s spending habits with out of town retail parks and online shopping.
“What is pleasing is the efforts made by groups coming together – the Council, business organisations and community groups – which are working together to drive the town centre forward.
“What we are seeing now is lots of different projects starting to emerge and hopefully they will all come to fruition.
“The problem is that nothing goes at the speed we want it to. Kirkcaldy has been in the doldrums for a while and these things don’t happen overnight.
“However with everyone working together we can look forward to 2018.”
A new cinema at last?
Plans for a £10m cinema complex on the site of the former Kirkcaldy swimming pool have finally been submitted, some four years after the building closed.
LaSalle Investment Management, the current owners of the Mercat Shopping Centre, have lodged a formal planning application with Fife Council, which if approved will clear the way for a multi-screen cinema, bars, restaurants and shop units that will play a key part in the regeneration plans for Kirkcaldy.
The plans also come with the prospect of up to 150 jobs during the construction phase as well as around 30 job in the cinema and a further 75 in the restaurants and retail units.
In the formal proposal, LaSale points to the finished project appealing to a range of big name restaurant chains, a prospect that would significantly boost the Lang Toun’s night time economy.
“The restaurants are likely to appeal to national multiples and chains such as Nandos, Wagamama, Bella Italia, Pizza Express and Byron Burgers,” the proposal states.
The latest move comes after a recently-completed consultation concluded an ‘overwhelming public interest and support’ for the plans.
The detailed proposal will come as a relief to many and brings the much needed cinema facility a step closer.
Simon Usher, associate director at LaSalle Investment Management had told the Press back in 2013, when his company took control of the unwanted building from Fife Council with a five year lease of the site, that the building would not be allowed to become an eyesore.
But the former swimming pool has lain empty and has become increasingly dilapidated over the last four years.
With the demolition of the LaSalle-owned former Co-op building in Glenrothes due to take place in March 2018, it’s understood the same contractors will also carry out the demolition of the former Kirkcaldy pool building.
Scaffolding has now been erected on the former pool building, further confirming that work is imminent at the site.
Waterfront plans latest
The plans to revamp Kirkcaldy Waterfront could soon be available as they are set to be put out to consultation in the new year.
The area has long been seen as a wasted opportunity, which if utilised correctly, could help reinvigorate the town centre and increase footfall in the area.
With its dull harsh grey seawalls, dual carriageway and lack of greenery, it’s seen by many as an ideal starting point to begin changing the heart of Kirkcaldy.
And there are those who would like to see a move towards more leisure facilities and a cafe culture.
So far, businesses in the town have had the opportunity to look at the rough plans before they are seen by the public.
There were four possible options that had been put forward, but it would appear that it has since been whittled down to three.
The most drastic change is thought to be reducing the dual carriageway to a single road, which paves the way for new space for redevelopment at the seafront.
However, the most basic and least-imaginative option of just turning that length of road into a giant car park – which would only add more spaces to the two multi-storey facilities and the existing seafront car park – is understood to have been eliminated.
While we will probably see increased parking space, there will likely be more landscaping involved in the project.
If all goes well, could 2018 finally be the year we see it become a selling point for Kirkcaldy?