Attempts to strike a deal to bring a longed-for cinema back to Kirkcaldy town centre appear to have dried up.
Vue, which had been in talks with Fife Council and the owners of the Mercat to build a multiplex at the site of the old swimming pool, has confirmed it has no current plans to develop in Kirkcaldy.
The news strikes a blow to hopes in June that, following delicate negotiations over many months, a proposal on the table would make a deal forthcoming.
A meeting between Fife Council, acting on behalf of the Mercat’s owners LaSalle Investment Management, and Vue had made significant headway to tackling funding difficulties and it was understood a proposal was finally being considered.
At the time Vue said: “The development is still in the early planning stages and so no final decisions have been made.”
However, the Press understands that during the past six months news of talks between the parties had quietened down.
When approached by the Press for comment this week, Fife Council initially said “attracting a town centre cinema to Kirkcaldy is a key objective to help bring visitors to the town centre.”
Robin Presswood, head of economy, planning and employability added: “Where there are a number of parties involved in complex negotiations, it can take some time to come to fruition.
“We are continuing to work towards an outcome in the best interests of Kirkcaldy town centre.”
However, when the Press asked Vue whether they were still involved in talks with Fife Council and LaSalle, a spokesman said the company continued to look for opportunities but had “no plans for a development in Kirkcaldy.”
Fife Council refused to react to that statement.
Mr Presswood commented: “Unfortunately, we are not in a position to comment on individual negotiations or companies.
“We’re keen to secure new investment in Kirkcaldy town centre, including new leisure facilities, and are continuing to work with owners of land and property to facilitate new investment and development.”
David Torrance MSP told the Press the Council’s position simply wasn’t good enough.
LaSalle Management had a five year option on the old swimming pool and the lease had half-expired.
“There’s been nothing going on in two and a half years, except for the ongoing deterioration of a building which does nothing to help groups who are trying to redevelop the town centre,” he commented.
“We’ve heard so much about a cinema coming here.
“It would be great for the council to give us an update on when Vue are coming to Kirkcaldy.
“Were there conditions to Vue coming which the council could not fulfill?”
Old pool ’eyesore’ gives wrong impression of town
In 2013, a public pledge was made that Kirkcaldy’s old swimming pool would NOT become a boarded up eyesore.
Roll forward to the present day and many would argue the pool has become exactly that.
When LaSalle Investment Management took over ownership of the Mercat and a five year option on the swimming pool in 2013, associate director Simon Usher reassured politicians and local groups that the building would not be left to wither.
He said: “We are currently looking at a number of alternative uses for it such as leisure - for example having a cinema in Kirkcaldy is one of the obvious things that people want.
“It is not our intention to leave the building derelict.”
He added: “We are optimistic we can get some complementary use to the shopping centre.”
David Torrance MSP urged the council to demolish the building in 2013.
Speaking yesterday, he said: “It has become an eyesore and what impression does this give to people coming into the town centre?
“We have spent a lot of money regenerating the waterfront which gives the Kirkcaldy Esplanade huge potential to be used on a commercial and leisure basis.
“It would have been better to demolish the pool at the time. It would have created a site with a lot of potential then. The council, at the end of the day, wanted to remove responsibility for its upkeep for five years.”
Robin Presswood, Fife Council, commented: “While we don’t have responsibility for the building at the present time we are continuing to work towards the re-development of the site with the owner of the Mercat Shopping Centre.
“In the event that the re-development of the site is not taken forward by the owner of the Mercat Shopping Centre, responsibility would revert to the council in which case we will explore the option of demolishing the property.”
A spokesman for LaSalle was unavailable for comment.