How do we bring Kirkcaldy town centre back after lockdown?

Launch of a new Civic Conversation with people passionate about the Lang Toun

Friday, 8th May 2020, 4:45 pm
Join in our civic conversation

No one can predict what post pandemic Scotland or anywhere else in the world will look like.

But most commentators agree that going back to the way things were may not be desirable far less achievable.

Will major banks for example or major insurance companies go back to populating their very expensive city centre headquarters when business almost as usual has been conducted successfully from home settings.

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Councillor Neil Crooks (Pic : George McLuskie)

Will the high fliers abandon flights across the world for meetings which can be conducted over Zoom or Microsoft Teams or FaceTime and maintain the reduction in use of environment poisoning planes?

Allan Crow raised the issue of a civic conversation last week so what will post pandemic Kirkcaldy Area look like and in particular the town centre?

Before lockdown we were aware that Kirkcaldy4All- the Business Improvement District company - had decided to shut up shop, a decision which saddened me personally having worked with the board for eight years.

Bill Harvey as CEO helped so many business people in the town centre and was a rock for many of our local events and achievements.

I hope he is not allowed to retire and disappear from public life, and I know that is a widely held but not often voiced opinion.

Before the lockdown, Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions Partnership had agreed to form two steering groups to start a civic conversation and promote engagement firstly on post Kirkcaldy4All town centre and secondly, Adam Smith 2023 celebrations for his 300th birthday.

Zoom has allowed the conversations and ideas to flow and next week there will be a good news story in relation to the initial outcomes of post Kirkcaldy4All deliberations.

We anticipate that gradually widening the opportunities to engage we end up with something supported and influenced by a wide audience, but with a very Lang Toun local focus.

Adam Smith is huge abroad and through the work of the Adam Smith Global Foundation, Kirkcaldy has been re claiming our right to Smith as his birthplace.

Global interest from China and USA in particular has been growing through the high profile speakers at the town’s annual Adam Smith Lecture, and 2023 is a unique opportunity for the Lang Toun to benefit economically from the 300 years celebration and hopefully attract philanthropic investment to that emerging programme.

I believe our town centre will change physically, and possibly dramatically, as retail continues to shrink against the inevitability of online shopping.

Residential opportunities to populate the area will be picked up and the Council will encourage that change. Planning permission for housing on the old Co-op gap site will be a significant start and give the whole community a lift. More will follow.

Our multi storey car parks, ugly and shunned by drivers will have to make way for more relevant use and we should see some progress on what that may look like thanks to sterling work by National Pride and Fife Council’s economic development team with a major developer.

I am told people want experiences when they go out, so leisure has to be a serious player in the future of the town centre.

Apart from the cinema, suggestions involving lighting, trampolines, selfie inspired art, skateboarding, and bowling all look like strong economic opportunities to increase footfall.

There is a report to our area committee pending on car parking and placemaking options but as the Committees are currently in lockdown, that will have to wait a bit longer.

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I hope this whets the appetite for civic conversation in these very dark days for a future yet to unfold and I would encourage continued vigilance against this awful disease and try to stay safe.

> To join our Civic Conversation on Kirkcaldy town centre';s future after lockdown, please email [email protected]

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Thank you

Allan Crow, Editor, Fife Free Press