Esplanade eyesore - the ghastly gap site that blights Kirkcaldy's waterfront

How quickly a decade passes - and how little changes.
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Kirkcaldy leisure centre’s tenth anniversary falls this month. It’s hard not to glance along from the £15m facility to the ghastly gap site that was created with the demolition of the old swimming pool - a site that has sat boarded up and undisturbed ever since.

Bought by the then owners of the Mercat Shopping Centre for a nominal quid, I recall their pledge that it would not become a white elephant.

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As eyesores go, this one has to be in the top three, and it’s local folk who have to live with it, pass it daily, and wonder to themselves what exactly has been done to encourage development over the past decade?

The pool site has come an eyesore (Pics: Fife Free Press)The pool site has come an eyesore (Pics: Fife Free Press)
The pool site has come an eyesore (Pics: Fife Free Press)

These gap sites never really blend into the landscape, and neither should they be allowed to. This is our town, we should expect better.

To walk along the front and then up the side is a truly miserable experience. The place reeks of decay, decline and utter disinterest. It was never bonny - it was ugly when it was built for goodness sake - but the steps that connect to the multi-storey car park and used to lead along to the walkway at the Mercat are grim. Actually, they’re worse than that.

And when you go up, the view over the boards is pretty soul destroying - a prominent, important site sitting empty. I can still picture every part of the old pool, from its entrance to its miserable changing rooms, but all I see are weeds and rubble.

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A decade on nothing - absolutely nothing - has happened, and with the collapse in retail, it’s unlikely to see a dime of investment any time soon, so do we wait another decade before the land is finally put to use for the good of the town that tolerates this hideous mess?

This town has exercised the patience of a saint waiting on projects to get off the ground and action to be taken on so many different initiatives. It deserves much better.

There is a bigger picture at play and it goes like this. Flatten the ugly sister multi-storey car parks next to the old pool, and then you create a massive waterfront site that will woo any investor to transform the town centre - one that comes up with a blueprint that is much, much more ambitious than just more flats looking over the Forth. Only when that happens will the true benefits of all the work being done on the waterfront come to fruition and deliver something tangible for this town.

It’s holding back much of the work going on to make change happen. I like the new look that is emerging from all the work on the Esplanade - love the new giant heart that has just been unveiled too! The social media whingers really need to lighten up.

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I know it has split opinion, but the first phase at the east end looks good, just not too sure about the work on going around Volunteers Green. Why create such a wide pavement which folk will rarely use given they walk along the Prom right next to it? Sure, it give us the single carriageway, which is needed, but couldn’t more imaginative use have been made of the space? What is the vibrant picture on the box we have yet to fully see?

Only by removing the gasp sites and eyesores will it finally be coloured in.

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