Kirkcaldy: time to demolish the Mercat and put all its shops into High Street?

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The demolition of the Postings shopping centre brings an opportunity to breathe some new life into Kirkcaldy’s beleaguered town centre.

Three hundred homes are planned for the site, introducing new residents and hopefully some new custom for businesses on the High Street. But still, significant issues will remain. On a walk along the High Street this morning I photographed each unit that seems to be empty and unused.

I soon lost count of ex-shops that are vacant -empty for years, decaying, boarded-up, eyesores, and that was just on the street front

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There are empty units inside the Mercat too - and a ghostly kind of atmosphere. Despite all the talk over the years of the forthcoming regeneration of Kirkcaldy High Street, it is clear that its decline as a shopping location continues.

The Mercat and the High Street have both suffered as number of departuresThe Mercat and the High Street have both suffered as number of departures
The Mercat and the High Street have both suffered as number of departures

There are some bright spots - independent businesses that offer great local produce, nice cafes and charity shops for bargain hunters - but the chains have mostly gone and there is no chance they’ll be back. Retail parks located elsewhere and online shopping have done the damage. There are clearly far too many empty units in the High Street area and not enough businesses to fill them.

So what should be done? There’s actually a great opportunity now to make the area much nicer. Why not close the Mercat and, like the Postings, demolish it, along with its multi storey car parks?

This would open up a large area of land right down to the Esplanade, which could be used for residential. It would be an ideal location for flats, particularly retirement flats, with its location near the waterfront, bus station and swimming pool.

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The businesses from the Mercat could move into the available empty units on the High Street. New residents would bring more money and services and Kirkcaldy’s waterfront would benefit aesthetically from the replacement of brutal, utilitarian car parks with modern apartments, facing out to the sea.

Of course, the owners would not want it to be sold for a song, but they also cannot want a financial liability on their hands - which is what it could well become as the decline in physical retail trading continues. Could there be more profit for them in a change of use from retail to residential?

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.

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