A £100 million carbon zero business and innovation park in Kirkcaldy has been unveiled as the central plank of a new economic action plan to improve mid-Fife’s fortunes.
Members of the Kirkcaldy area committee aired their views on the draft document that will focus on improving economic activity in Kirkcaldy. Cowdenbeath, Glenrothes and Levenmouth, an area where challenges have been more pronounced than elsewhere in the region.
A number of measures have been proposed for Kirkcaldy in particular, including major modernisation of the town’s existing industrial estates; more radical proposals for the town centre to improve the night-time economy and increase residential opportunities; efforts to maximise the attractiveness of the waterfront and better connect the town to the Esplanade; and the development of tourism accommodation to make it attractive to both coastal path visitors and those seeking higher end accommodation.
However, it is the proposed business and innovation park, earmarked for land adjoining Mitchelston Industrial Estate, that will attract most of the resources.
With Mid-Fife massively under-represented in terms of Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS) – seen as the driver of growth in the last decade – various funding sources are being investigated to create a modern business and innovation park to capture a share of the market at an estimated cost of between £80 million and £100 million.
Councillor Neil Crooks, convener of the Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “There’s understandably much focus and discussion on what we can do immediately to improve the area.
“There are a wide range of projects and investments underway to help deliver on these for Kirkcaldy.
“However, it’s also very important that we identify, prioritise and resource longer term visions too.
“We need a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach to address the scale of the challenges that we are presented with in the Kirkcaldy and Mid-Fife area.
“I’m particularly interested in the proposal to build a carbon zero business and innovation park in Kirkcaldy as locally, we are significantly under-represented in this field.”
Mr Crooks noted more must also be done to attract people to live in Mid-Fife, as house prices and the cost of living are relatively low compared to Edinburgh.
He added: “For example, living in Kirkcaldy and commuting to Edinburgh could save someone over £8,700 annually – that’s quite an incentive and opportunity.”
Around £1 million is expected to be devoted to developing new proposals to “re-purpose” Kirkcaldy town centre over the next three to five years, which will include support for activities aimed at boosting the night-time economy, while the same sum will go towards maximising Kirkcaldy Esplanade and waterfront – described as a “unique selling point” for the town.
Around £500,000 will go towards tourism initiatives, with a glamping link-up with luggage transfer for people walking the Fife Coastal Path among the ideas floated.
The action plan will also be presented to other area committees covering Mid-Fife ahead of a final version going to a future meeting of the council’s economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee.