Opinion: We need to accelrate long-term vision for town centre

Fife Free Press editorial comment,
Fife Free Press editorial comment,

Store closures at the retail park and the High Street underline once again how much our shopping habits are changing.

The more we migrate online, the more the traditional shops contract.

But, at the same time, we rail against politicians for not doing enough to protect our High Street.

We want them to be vibrant places where we can eat and meet, browse and be entertained.

But we’re not really prepared to do anything significant to support them.

That mind set has to change.

Kirkcaldy’s town centre has some deep-rooted problems – we know that – but it also has a fighting chance of redefining itself for a new generation.

Retail cannot be its sole focal point. The three Cs – coffee shops, cafes and, yes, the cinema – may well emerge as the leaders, giving people reason to visit and, once there they will then browse niche-market shops with the focus on independent retailers.

It’s a long term vision – one that is taking far too long to deliver (did we mention the cinema?), but there IS a plan.

But the retail park, by its definition, exists to shop.

And when it starts losing businesses such as Toys R Us, then it too has to re-think the model.

There is absolutely no doubt the opening of its smaller units has impacted on the High Street. Everyone said it would, but the plans were still approved ...

Squaring the circle is next to impossible.

Balancing the needs of the town centre with the desires of the out of town retail park is a thorny one for politicians to master.

The closure of Toys R Us and the loss of Clinton Cards are two reminders that perhaps neither really knows what will happen next in retail.

And so, the vision we have for our town has to be accelerated.