Internationally acclaimed designer Andres Duany, who led the week-long Charrette, said this had been one of his most complex projects to date. His closing presentation focused on proposals looking up to 60 years ahead as the best way to plan for the future. Andres spoke about a town centre supermarket, the Church on Bank Street, a new railway station, as well as the golf course, and areas off the high street, giving his final view on what he felt the solutions could be for those contentious issues.
Jim Mackinnon, Chief Planner, Scottish Government, welcomed everyone to Lochgelly and said: “I was struck by the tremendous commitment of planners and politicians in Fife Council in preparing for the charrette, the involvement of local schools, Andres Duany’s frank assessment of Lochgelly and the challenges facing the town, the willingness of local people to engage in shaping the future of Lochgelly and the ability of the Duany team to present not just a long term vision for the town but also some practical steps that could be taken to “heal and seal” the fabric. I look forward to working with Fife Council on the next steps. “
Andres Duany kicked off his presentation by saying: “You have a very complicated little town. We have had to keep our eye on your reality and your future. Everything you do in terms of urbanism has a multiplier effect if you do it right”.
Andres’ key points included:
• Focusing on developing the town’s railway station and surrounding area to make the most of the rail connection to Scotland’s capital city.
• Locating a sensitively-designed supermarket near the Town House to anchor the town and draw shoppers to the independent speciality shops on Bank St and Main St. Allowing a supermarket on the outskirts would kill the local shops.
• Creating a plaza next to the Town House and supermarket, opening up an approach to the Church on Bank Street which could be converted into an attractive indoor market.
• Converting the Town House into a senior care centre which would provide its users with easy access to the town centre and all local amenities.
• Supporting shops on Bank St and Main St to urgently bring their premises up to modern standards. A retail management scheme could also allow parking on Bank Street to boost retail and slow down the traffic.
• Investing in developing one first class golf course and clubhouse on the site between Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly with bus links which would provide an accessibility presently enjoyed by locals.
• Creating a business park to the East of the town including an aspiration for a rail link.
• Improving the standards of housing through simple redesign and repainting, rather than demolition and reconstruction.
• Developing the town square into a public space which has real energy through redevelopment of buildings to the edge, removing the small car park and improved landscaping.
• Investing in the Arts Centre, incorporating the library and revamping one of the key entrances to the town.
Keith Winter, Head of Development Services for Fife Council outlined the next steps for Lochgelly. He commented: “”The Charrette has been without doubt a considerable success for Lochgelly. The manner in which Andres Duany and his team have captured the spirit and the content of the public sessions has been inspiring and comprehensive.
“Fife Council will now take a breath to consider how it can proceed, what lessons we have learnt, how we will play such a process into the emerging Local Plan for Lochgelly and the wider Dunfermline and West Fife Area, as well as how to continue the nature and focus of conversations which have commenced across Lochgelly throughout the week. There is a considerable challenge before the Officers in Fife Council on how to advise the Members and seek their agreement on how we can build on this week’s experience.”
Councillor John Beare, Chair of Fife Council’s Planning Committee, thanked everyone involved in the Charrette and especially the local community for their interest and support. He said: “The Charrette has brought a whole new meaning to the term community engagement and we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the local community. What has just taken place in Lochgelly brings with it huge challenges for the planning system which must be addressed, but I feel excited about the proposals developed by Andres and his design team. It’s been a real privilege to have been involved in the process.”