From demolition to redevelopment - your ideas to tackle Esplanade eyesores

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What on earth are we going to do with our unloved, ugly multi-storey car parks in Kirkcaldy?

It’s a shame King Charles opted to visit Dunfermline this coming week rather than the Lang Toun.

One sight of these buildings would have had him frothing about ‘monstrous carbuncles’ - as he famously once described the extension to the National Gallery in London.

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You can bet that action would have followed even before the ink was dry on any Royal decree.

The Esplanade multi-storey car park in KirkcaldyThe Esplanade multi-storey car park in Kirkcaldy
The Esplanade multi-storey car park in Kirkcaldy

Maybe it needs that sort of intervention - one that leads to direct, immediate action that changes the landscape.

The news that a parking charge pilot project had ended propelled the car parks back on to our radar.

It centred on the Thistle Street facility, the little brother that sits in the shadows of the Ugly Sisters - the two Esplanade multi-storeys.

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It may be smaller, but it was borne out of the same school of brutalism which seemed to have held court when it came to architecture and design here in the 1960s and 1970s. We’re still living with that legacy.

Volunteers Green has a key role to play in the transformation of the waterfrontVolunteers Green has a key role to play in the transformation of the waterfront
Volunteers Green has a key role to play in the transformation of the waterfront
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I suspect we’ve become de-sensitised to the hideous look of the buildings.

We’ve long since learned to live with them, along with all the other appalling, tatty buildings that have been allowed to decay and decline unchecked over many, many years.

Oh, to have a batch of compulsory purchase orders and be allowed to wander round town slapping them on buildings landlords and owners have simply abandoned without so much as a second thought to the town.

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A parking charge pilot project is ending at Thistle Street car parkA parking charge pilot project is ending at Thistle Street car park
A parking charge pilot project is ending at Thistle Street car park

The improvements made to parking bays and lighting inside - a decent project which made a real difference - were all largely hidden by that grim exterior.

The response to our story on the end of the parking charge trial sparked a raft of comments on what needs to happen to the multi-storeys, and the land they occupy.

It’s a prime site - one that grows even further in scale if you factor in the gap site created by the demolition of the old swimming pool.

The then owners of the Mercat Shopping Centre - which bought the pool for quid - pledged it wouldn’t become a white elephant. Guess what has been allowed to happen …

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On our Facebook page there were many calls for the multi-storeys to be torn down and the prime land they occupy transformed to revitalise our town centre.

Ideas, there were plenty.

Gordon Hay: Knock it down and create a place similar to Gunwarf in Portsmouth that has cinemas, eateries and shops in a great environment. Use the south facing views and make use of them with outdoor areas that can be covered in winter.

Ian Thomson: A plan for demolition should be now prepared. The building has come to the end of its useful life. I’ve often wondered if Kirkcaldy should look at getting a larger leisure centre to cope with an increasing population.

Stuart McAusland: Get it demolished and create some green space. The centre of Dundee is quite different these days and on sunny days lots of people are enjoying the green areas across from the VA and discovery.

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Ian Yule: Pull it down and put some new flats with lovely sea views - .get people living back in the town centre again.

Others looked at an even bigger picture, encompassing Volunteers Green - the only green space in the town centre which is also underused, but valued by those who do enjoy its tranquility.

A consultation is due on how it can be developed and made more of a focal point, without losing its history.

Richard Henderson summed it up: “We need a public space that is usable and complementary land uses. This amount of space does not exist any where else. Use it wisely.”

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Getting the balance right is a challenge. It’s also an opportunity to effect real, transformational change and breathe new life into the very heart of our town centre.

We don’t have a blank canvas - not until the buildings come down - and we certainly don;t have a blank cheque, but we do have ideas and a vision of what could be. Make that potential a reality and it could be a game-changing moment.

And we have one asset that many other towns would die for.

Fiona Forbes summed it up best: “ The sea view is the selling point.”