First designs revealed for Fife town centre square to transform gap site

A plan to turn the site of Dunfermline’s former Co-op premises into a ‘Town Square’ and more useful public space has been backed by local councillors.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 1:54 pm

Members of the City of Dunfermline area committee have welcomed designs for the so-called ‘gap site’ in the town centre which has been used by the community as a green space for the past 20 years or so.

The Co-op buildings were demolished more than 30 years ago, but landscape architects Iglu Studio were commissioned in July to develop options to formalise the space for recreation and events and make it an attractive area for the community to use - rather than just a walkway for people going to and from the bus station and the High Street.

Around £500,000 has been set aside in Fife Council’s capital programme for the project initially, and it is hoped the new-look space could stage events such as farmers’ markets and a community/enterprise hub - as well as playing host to a re-sited Mercat Cross once it has returned from its refurbishment.

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Committee convener Councillor Helen Law said she hoped members were as excited as she was about the plans coming to fruition.

“It’s been one of my personal ambitions to have something done with this site for many years and we were somewhat discouraged because we were told it was going to be used for some commercial use,” she said.

“That clearly hasn’t happened and there’s no sign of it happening, so this is absolutely the best way forward.

The first designs for the town square

“I’m really pleased to see this coming forward and this is something that I would hope is a positive move for Dunfermline.

"It is a really, really difficult site, there's no getting away from it, but the architects have come up with something really magical."

After initial designs were shared with councillors on Tuesday morning, Sunil Varu, economy advisor, explained: “The design option represented a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to develop a coherent and exciting set of proposals.

“In order to develop financially realistic proposals in line with the initial budget of £500,000, detailed assessments were made of the site such as topographical survey, site investigation work, underground drainage survey as well as civil engineering and cost control advice.

“The design proposals therefore have the benefit of a full and proper assessment of the site’s physical constraints and not become a series of “wish list” items which could not be delivered.”

Mr Varu said more sources of funding were being looked at, such as the government's Levelling Up Fund, and stressed it was likely to be a phased development that may take two to three years to complete.

The lower tier of the site will be used to facilitate events, include an area for bin storage, and also accommodate the relocated Mercat Cross from the High Street.

Meanwhile, the upper tier would be a more informal, grassed open space which would have a more direct link into the rear of Bruce Street.

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