Plans approved to bring building reputed to be oldest in Kirkcaldy back into use

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A building reputed to be the oldest in Kirkcaldy is to be brought back into use.

New plans unveiled for Sailor’s Walk in the town’s harbour area have been approved by councillors.

The National Trust for Scotland got permission for a change of use from an art gallery to office space on the ground floor at 449 High Street.

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The aim is to establish a hub for staff with the conservation organisation which protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage.

Sailor's Walk in Kirkcaldy is reputed to be the oldest building in KirkcaldySailor's Walk in Kirkcaldy is reputed to be the oldest building in Kirkcaldy
Sailor's Walk in Kirkcaldy is reputed to be the oldest building in Kirkcaldy

NTS is largely funded by donations and supported by more than 300,000 members.

William Inglis, head of national estates at NTS, said, “Sailor’s Walk has a number of different spaces in the building which can accommodate a variety of different uses.

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“We are planning to use one of these spaces – the area where there was a small art gallery which closed during COVID – as a hub for staff, bringing the building back into use and conserving this former customs house and town house/fisher tenement block.”

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Sailor’s Walk is one of the town centre’s historic landmarks.

The three-storey and attic building dates back to 1460.

It was possibly originated as the homes of two wealthy merchants or shipowners and was due for demolition in the late 1940s before the National Trust stepped in and took it over.

A decade later it was restored with funds coming via a public appeal and the Historic Buildings Council.

It survived a fire in 1994 started by vandals, and an inventory revealed much of its history.

The blaze damaged the painted ceiling on the first floor.

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A panel bearing the Arms of Charles II was originally sited on the east elevation and is dated either 1662 – when Charles confirmed the Royal Charter of the town - or 1682.

The principal room of the west house has been known as 'The Queen Mary Room', possibly connected with Mary of Guise.

Sailor's Walk was also known as Oliphant's House until the early 20th century.

In recent years it was home to an art gallery.

A planning statement submitted with the application said: “The two rooms in question were formally used as a Gallery/Studio space by our then tenant, a local artist.

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"The tenant terminated the lease on the property in August 2020, during the first year of the Covid pandemic. Since then, the Trust has had no interest from external parties regarding rental.

As part of the Trust’s New Ways of Working, we are seeking to set up 449 High Street as a local hub for meetings and workspace. This set of rooms were chosen as they are well serviced with the welfare facilities required for an office space and are at present, environmentally in better condition than the remainder of the building.

The whole set of buildings are currently undergoing a condition survey with a view to repair and conservation, working together with some local partners.

"It is hoped that this alongside the reoccupation of no 449 will act as a catalyst to help find other users for the rest of the building, bringing a

building at risk back into use.”

Councilors approve the application with the condition that development must be commenced with three years.