First impressions count – so let’s tackle Kirkcaldy's ugly gap sites and drab vennels

Let’s play a game - it’s called ‘what are people’s first impressions of Kirkcaldy?’
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Imagine you have arrived at the train station from Edinburgh. It’s nothing special to look at - bit old fashioned, some tubs of plants and the proverbial signage in Gaelic that is hardly worth the cost of the paint.

You head down the stairs into the subway that leads to the town centre. Drab, functional a bit tired looking, and certainly not unwelcoming or scary, but imagine if it was modernised and lit up?

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The walk through the war memorial gardens is lovely - a welcoming, green space that is well maintained, and the view takes in landmarks such as the Adam Smith Theatre.

A gap site and an eyesore ...the empty site that was once home to Kitty's nightclub (Pic: Fife Free Press)A gap site and an eyesore ...the empty site that was once home to Kitty's nightclub (Pic: Fife Free Press)
A gap site and an eyesore ...the empty site that was once home to Kitty's nightclub (Pic: Fife Free Press)

On to the green corridor which is a pleasant walk towards the Town House and Town Square. All very pleasant until you glance to your left and see the first of the gap sites that scar our landscape.

At Kitty’s a forlorn for sale sign has been plonked in the middle of a desert of gravel - all that remains of the club inside the historic old Post Office building.The wee wooden fence put up, presumably to keep cars out, is already falling to bits.

Imagine the same space grassed over and maintained … or maybe we should send in a hit squad armed with plants to bring colour and life to a plot of land that will, let’s be honest, will still be empty two years or more from now.

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Perhaps we should do the the same at the site of the old swimming pool – another dump we’ll still be driving past for possibly years to come.

But the demolition of Kitty’s also revealed another ugly eyesore that had been hiding in plain sight. The old telephone exchange is a patched up, shabby mess which BT needs to sort.

On to the bus station which is more than adequate until you glance to the huge site where The Postings once stood.

Once again, we’re left with an ugly mess. When it rains a lake forms in the middle, the fences are half down, and there’s a solitary traffic cone sitting in the middle. I’d wager it will look exactly the same in one year, maybe even two.

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At Hill Street, spin back round and check out the hopelessly outdated signage which directs you to Adam Smith College, while the arrow to the shopping centre is pointing in the wrong direction.

The vennel leading to the High Street is a bit down at heel, if not plain manky. There are bits of graffiti, some broken street furniture and the boards which were once emblazoned with business’s names are all peeling.

The tiredness that clings to it sums up how much decay we live with. It all becomes part of the background which does nothing to enhance the place, but is not serious enough for anyone to actually do anything about it.

Turn down to the waterfront and you come to Volunteers Green - it looks fabulous, I really do think the council has got this spot on; a green space that feels modern, welcoming and relaxing.

That’s the impression we want to leave visitors with; a town that is changing, and has lots to offer. But there is still so much to do.

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