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Background

Love Oor Lang Toun (LOLT) was formed in April 2020, consisting of volunteers who had been involved in Kirkcaldy Town Centre through various work or voluntary connections.  This was during the start of the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the majority of Town Centre businesses, including the independent traders, had to close down for an unspecified period.  LOLT was concerned about support for local independent traders, especially after Kirkcaldy4All, the former Business Improvement District (BID) had recently folded.  Not intending to be a replacement for the BID, LOLT did acquire some funding to help local businesses through this period by connecting them to ShopAppy, a UK company that was helping local traders provide an online presence for local people as a way of raising their profile.  When the lockdown restrictions were eased, LOLT commissioned a number of videos entitled Kirkcaldy Is Open to encourage locals to come back to the High Street.

 

Following this, LOLT and Greener Kirkcaldy jointly produced a webinar entitled Kirkcaldy After Lockdown to discuss what was next for the Town Centre.  Apart from the immediate effects of businesses trying to recover from the COVID closure, the Town Centre was also going through a phase of the big, multiple retailers closing their outlets.  This included Tesco, BHS, Marks & Spencer, Next, and all of the Arcadia group that included Burtons and Debenhams.  The webinar was attended by 60 people, and was followed up by a survey completed by 150 people.  The way forward seemed to point towards:

  • Waterfront development that creates family-friendly activities such as a cinema, theatre, bowling alley, and outdoor play areas;

  • Opening up views and routes to the Waterfront by getting rid of some of the High Street buildings;

  • Developing pop-up shops;

  • Making use of the big empty units such as BHS and M&S by converting them into smaller units;

  • Building on the success of the Artisan Market.

 

LOLT formally constituted as a Community Interest Company (CIC) and continued the discussion on the future of Kirkcaldy Town Centre.  On the first anniversary of the group, LOLT ran another webinar entitled The Future Is Now.  The guest speaker was Leigh Sparks, Professor of Retail Studies at the University of Stirling and Chair of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership.  By this time, LOLT had decided that some sort of feasibility study needed to be undertaken to look at how we could address the issue of the number of Town Centre sites that were becoming vacant and derelict, particularly the larger units, and other units that were being neglected by landlords causing blight in the High Street.

 

Fortunately, LOLT successfully applied for a grant from Crown Estates Scotland, and along with additional funding provided by the Kirkcaldy Area Committee of Fife Council, they were able to commission architects ARPL to undertake the feasibility study and employ two part-time staff to develop a substantial community engagement strategy.  LOLT decided to use The Future Is Now to brand the project.  

Next:  Consultation Process

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