About Kirkcaldy + Key Facts
Kirkcaldy is a large town in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland.
Kirkcaldy has long been nicknamed the Lang Toun in reference to the early town's 0.9-mile (1.4 km) main street. The street later reached a length of nearly 4 miles (6.4 km).
Kirkcaldy has a population of around 50,000 people. The population in this area is predicted to increase 18% by 2036. (Source Our Fife.Scot)
Kirkcaldy Town Centre is not alone in it's challenges.
Here's some history and key facts.
Kirkcaldy was once the industrial heart of Fife and it was a very prosperous town.
It was the linoleum capital of the world and at its peak there were seven factories within the town . The linoleum industry was Kirkcaldy's largest employer. Kirkcaldy also had various linen and flour mills, and coal mines.
However, from the 1960s onwards there was a decline in traditional British industries resulting in the closure of factories and coal mines. Kirkcaldy was no exception and thousands of jobs were lost.
While Kirkcaldy had been thriving due to it's industrial nature, so did the High Street. There was a lot of prosperity in Kirkcaldy and wages were good. Large chain stores populated the long High Street alongside local independents. It was one of the best places to shop in Scotland, with people travelling far and wide to visit.
However, throughout the UK retail was evolving. The large chain stores and supermarkets moved towards out of town shopping as retail parks became more popular. The high street was changing.
In 1997 the Fife Central retail park opened in Kirkcaldy with various well-known national retailers and restaurants.
Consequently more and more big retailers closed their doors in the Town Centre and moved to retail parks. The buildings are easier to maintain and operate, and business rates (set by the Scottish Government, not Fife Council) are cheaper.
Retail parks are also able to offer free parking due to their location and lower costs. And because the buildings are modern and flexible, retailers can adapt them to suit their corporate style.
But by far the biggest impact has been the change in shopping habits and online shopping.
The internet accounted for only 3% of all retail in 2006, and that has now become 36% of all sales in the UK.
All retail has felt the impact of this, with almost 6000 shops being closed by major retail chains in 2019 alone.
Source: Retail Gazette, November 2019
It's clear that large retailers aren't coming back to our High Street. So where does that leave our Town Centre and the large retail units that are left behind...How can we repurpose them and who owns them?
That's what Love Oor Lang Toun is looking to answer. Through community led regeneration, we want to create a 21st century Town Centre to be proud of.
We believe that will be about more local independent shops; eating and cafe culture; artisan markets and makers spaces; family friendly leisure and entertainment; housing in and around the town centre; and encouraging people to shop local and support local businesses.