Town Centre Regeneration: TCRF Case Studies Report

The report presents findings of research undertaken in nine case study areas that received funding from the Town Centre Regeneration Fund (TCRF). The report highlights baseline measures for monitoring town centre regeneration activity relative to each case study. The report is one of four publications produced by this research.


Context and Background

4.1 Kirkcaldy is the largest town in the Fife local authority area and is located between Dundee and Edinburgh, which are both approximately 30 miles away. Kirkcaldy had a population of 50,600 in 2008 [7].

4.2 Historically, textiles have been an important part of the Kirkcaldy economy, and the town established itself as one of the largest linoleum producers in the world in the 1900s. However, the industry began to decline locally from the mid 1960s, and Kirkcaldy's manufacturing base declined sharply in the latter part of the 20th century, similar to many other areas of the UK. This was evidenced by the loss of major employers in the town, including GEC and Babygro, and the closure of the Kirkcaldy's coal mines, which collectively resulted in significant job losses.

4.3 The shift away from dependence on traditional industries towards a more service-based economy is therefore a central plank of economic development policy in Fife. As the area's main commercial, service and leisure centre, Kirkcaldy is earmarked as a strategic priority for expansion and regeneration over the next 20 years in the Fife Structure Plan. Reinforcing the town centre function is seen as critical if the town is to increase its attractiveness and competitiveness relative to other retail centres in neighbouring areas.

TCRF Project

4.4 The Kirkcaldy TCRF project brings together three interlinked projects aimed at enhancing Kirkcaldy town centre and its environs.

  • The High Street Streetscape Project will see the replacement of existing paving, lighting and street furniture, with higher quality materials. In addition, Wi-Fi will be installed in the town centre;
  • The Green Corridor Project will enhance the visitor arrival experience with public realm improvements at the railway station, museum and memorial gardens;
  • The Visitor Signage Strategy will introduce orientation boards and improve the information available to visitors at the points of arrival to the town.

4.5 The overarching aim of the project is to make Kirkcaldy town centre a safe, attractive and vibrant place to live, work, learn, visit, invest in and do business.

4.6 The three projects outlined above form a total investment sum of £7,050,000 within the town centre, of which £2,950,000 is being funded by the TCRF. The remaining funders are Fife Council (£2,850,000); the ERDF (£750,000); and Historic Scotland (£500,000).

4.7 Kirkcaldy faces a number of challenges and has been identified as one of three priority areas in Fife. Mid Fife fares worse than the rest of Fife in terms of social deprivation. In addition, there is a high proportion of out-commuting for employment from the area.

4.8 There is currently a large amount of leaked spending from Mid Fife. It is anticipated that the project will give Kirkcaldy a competitive edge, helping to attract top-end retailers and more investment to the town centre. Furthermore, the project should help decrease the levels of vacant units in the town centre.

4.9 The TCRF projects fit with a wider programme of economic regeneration within Kirkcaldy. The town has a potential catchment of 180,000. However, it suffers from extensive competition from a semi-circle of cities and larger towns: Edinburgh, Dundee, Perth, Stirling, Livingston, Dunfermline and Falkirk. Fife Council believes that the town has greater potential to become a retail and seaside destination.

4.10 The implementation of the programme of public realm, access, orientation and environmental improvements, the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme ( CARS) and associated shop front improvements could enhance the image of Kirkcaldy. It is anticipated that there will be increased footfall in the town centre, which could promote increased confidence and activity in the business community.

4.11 The project forms part of a comprehensive strategy to regenerate Kirkcaldy. As a result, planning consents are already in place. The project is led by the Council's transportation team and there is money allocated for the upgrading and maintenance of transport infrastructure over the next decade.

4.12 The CARS scheme, which is being implemented by Fife Council and Historic Scotland, seeks to bring new life to vacant and derelict buildings and to improve the quality of the public realm. Details from the project application and discussion with the case study contacts suggested that the project was designed to:

  • Make the town centre more accessible;
  • Improve the visual appearance of the town centre and environs;
  • Improve tourism facilities;
  • Make the town centre a more attractive location for businesses.


4.13 Table 4.1 reveals that the population of Kirkcaldy was estimated to be 51,000 in 2009. This represents an increase of 4% since 2001. Over the same period the population increase in Fife was also 4% which was slightly above the Scottish rate of 3%.

4.14 61% of Kirkcaldy's population are of working age. This is equal to the regional average of Fife and slightly below the national average of Scotland.

Table 4.1: Population

Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Total Population 2009 51,000 363,500 5,194,000
Population Change 2001-09 4% 4% 3%
% Working Age 2009 61% 61% 63%

Sources: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates

Age Profile

4.15 Figure 4.2 shows that the age structure of both Kirkcaldy and Fife populations are almost identical to that of Scotland. Compared with the regional and national averages, Kirkcaldy has a slightly higher population of over 65s.

Figure 4.2: Age Profile of the Population 2009
(Source: ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates 2009)

Figure 4.2: Age Profile of the Population 2009

Labour Market

4.16 Table 4.3 shows that the 2010 labour market participation levels (as measured by employment, unemployment and economic inactivity) in the regional area are generally below the national average.

4.17 Using the benefit claimant rate as a proxy for labour market participation, it can be assumed that the 2010 labour market participation levels for Kirkcaldy are considerably behind that of Fife and Scotland which both have levels of benefit claimants of 14%.

4.18 In January 2010, 6% of all working age residents in the Kirkcaldy area were claiming the benefit, above the respective rates of 4% for both Fife and Scotland.

4.19 When compared to Scotland, Fife has the same proportion of population educated to degree level (34%). In addition, a slightly lower proportion of Fife's working population have no qualifications at all, 10% as opposed to 13%.

Table 4.3: Labour Market

Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Labour Market Participation
Employment Rate N/A 71% 72%
Unemployment Rate N/A 9% 7%
Economic Inactivity Rate N/A 22% 23%
Benefit Claimants
Workless Benefit Claimant Rate 18.0% 14.5% 14.6%
Jobseekers Allowance Claimant Rate 6.0% 4.6% 4.2%
Qualifications of the Working Age Population
% WAP Qualified to Degree Level or Above N/A 34% 34%
% WAP with No Qualifications N/A 10% 13%

Local Economy

4.20 Table 4.4 shows that there were in the region of 20,800 jobs in Kirkcaldy in 2008, representing a decline of 2% since 2004. This was slower than the rate of decline across the region as whole (5%) and in contrast to growth of 3% across Scotland.

4.21 18% of employee jobs in Kirkcaldy are based within the financial & business services sector. This is above the regional average of 14% but slightly behind the Scottish rate of 19%.

4.22 There were a total of 500 businesses located in the local area in 2007 which was 2% lower than in 2004. This was a slower rate of growth than that experienced across both the region (4%) and the nation (8%) over the same period.

4.23 However, when compared with the regional and national averages, Kirkcaldy has a higher business density rate. In 2008, there were five businesses per 100 of the population in Kirkcaldy. This was above the regional average of three as well as the Scottish average of four.

Table 4.4: Local Economy

Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Number of Jobs 2008 20,800 128,800 2,420,400
% Change 2004-08 -2% -5% 3%
% Jobs financial & business services 18% 14% 19%
Business Base
Number of Businesses (2008) 1,500 10,100 181,500
% Change 2004-08 -2% 4% 8%
Businesses per 100 Head of Population 5 3 4

Source: Annual Business Inquiry & ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates

4.24 Table 4.5 shows a breakdown of all jobs by industry in Kirkcaldy, Fife and Scotland. The service sector is by far the largest employer in Kirkcaldy and accounts for a larger share of total employment when compared with Fife and Scotland. For example, retail & catering accounts for 27% of all jobs in the town, compared with 23% in Fife and 22% across Scotland as a whole.

4.25 Levels of manufacturing activity in Kirkcaldy (8%) are close to the Scottish average of 9%. Manufacturing in the Fife area accounts for an even higher share of employment (13%).

Table 4.5: Employment

Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Total Number of Jobs 2008 20,800 128,800 2,420,400
% Agriculture & Energy 0% 2% 3%
% Manufacturing 8% 13% 9%
% Construction 4% 5% 6%
% Retail & Catering 27% 23% 22%
% Transport & Communications 2% 3% 5%
% Financial & Business Services 18% 14% 19%
% Public Sector 37% 33% 30%
% Other Services 4% 7% 5%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

Business Base

4.26 Figure 4.6 shows the profile of the business base in terms of sizeband in the local area, relative to the regional and national areas. It shows that the vast majority of businesses across each of the areas employ between 1-10 people. In Kirkcaldy, these employers account for smaller share of employment (79%), when compared with Fife (81%) and Scotland (81%).

4.27 Businesses in Kirkcaldy with between 11 and 49 employees account for around 16% of all businesses in the area - greater than the regional and national averages of 14%.

4.28 Across Kirkcaldy, Fife and Scotland, 3% of businesses employ between 50 and 199 employees and 1% of businesses employed over 200 employees.

Figure 4.6: Businesses by Sizeband 2008
(Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI))

Figure 4.6: Businesses by Sizeband 2008


4.29 This section provides an overview of the tourism market in Kirkcaldy, providing some assessment of the recent performance at a regional and national level.

4.30 Unfortunately it is not possible to use the data zone definition to look at the tourism market in Kirkcaldy and so this section looks at the 2003 CAS wards.

4.31 Table 4.7 shows that the local area's tourism sector employed around 1,600 people in 2008, representing a decline of 17% since 2004. This rate of decline was faster than the across the region (-2%) and in contrast to the national increase of 5%.

4.32 There were around 70 tourism businesses in the local area in 2008 - an increase of around 8% since 2004. This rate of growth outpaced both the regional and national averages of 4%.

Table 4.7: Tourism

Tourism Employment & Workplaces Kirkcaldy Fife Scotland
Employees (2008) 1,600 11,800 215,000
Change in Employees 2004-2008 -17% -2% 5%
Workplaces 200 1,200 19,500
Change in Workplaces 2004-2008 2% 11% 4%

Source: Annual Business Inquiry ( ABI)

Progress with the TCRF Project

4.33 At the time of writing, the majority of work has not started, however a contractor had been appointed to undertake the works and a detailed design had been finalised. Consultation and promotion had been undertaken.

4.34 The BID, which replaces the Town Centre Management scheme, has been formed. The BID will be responsible for the installation of the Wi-Fi and Fife Council is responsible for the public realm improvements.

4.35 Delivering the project in the specified time-scale would not have been possible due to the procurement process and sourcing the required materials.

Town Centre

Table 4.8: Kirkcaldy: Baseline Measures (Jan 2010 or proxy)

Measure Specific Data Source Comment
Economic Activity
Recent Investment 15 Planning Applications Fife Council Planning Applications For 2009
2010 applications to be provided
No of Businesses Not provided BID -
No of jobs - - Only available at a town-wide level
Land use by type - - Not measured
Retail Performance
Rental levels £55 per sq.ft. Zone A Ryden Long run trend data is available and rents also available from some other property agents
Vacancy levels 17% Experian GOAD October 2010
Range of shops/services Assembly - 4
Charity - 11
Comparison - 108
Convenience - 28
Convenience/ Comparison - 2
Food and Drink - 44
Government and Municipal Buildings - 2
Hotel/Hostel - 1
Leisure - 9
Medical - 1
Office - 9
Service - 84
Vacant - 64
Works/Warehouses/ Factories - 2
Experian GOAD Only available at a ground floor level
Use and Accessibility
Parking 49% town centre car park occupancy Monthly monitoring and larger 3 yearly survey 2010
Pedestrian Flow Average weekly shopper visits (Mercat Shopping Centre) of 145,000 rising to a seasonal peak of 250,000 City Site Estates (Jan - Dec 2007 statistics)

Linkages & Catalyst for New Investment

4.36 The TCRF project is predominately focussed on making streetscape and public realm improvements and it is hoped that as a result, the higher end retailers will be attracted to this area of Kirkcaldy. However, the team realise that the improvements will only go so far. It is hoped that in due course the development of the Strategic Land Allocations will also help to attract new residents and therefore investment to the town centre.

4.37 The funding has been particularly beneficial to the newly formed Kirkcaldy BID. There is now a great deal of dialogue between the BID and the Council, as a liaison group between the parties has been set up as a direct result of the TCRF project. Furthermore, there is a now great deal of confidence in the BID as a result of the implementation of the TCRF project. In addition, the progress of the TCRF project should be of benefit for the proposal to extend the Mercat Centre in Kirkcaldy.

Project Specific Measures

Table 4.9: Kirkcaldy Projects: Performance Indicators

Objectives Performance Indicators Gathered/available: Before & After Source
The overarching aim of the project is to make Kirkcaldy town centre a safe, attractive and vibrant place to live, work learn, visit, invest and do business. Increased local spend Fife Retail Study
Increase footfall Pedestrian counter
Reduced business leakage to out of centre shopping Fife Retail Study
Increased units in retail use BID Business Plan
Town Centre Survey
Improved visitor perception of town centre Town Centre Perception Study
Improved residents' perception of town centre Town Centre perception study
Increased events in town centre BID Manager
Increased use of car parking FC Parking Survey

Addressing Theory of Change

4.38 Table 4.10 below highlights the 'results chain' that the research is aiming to confirm with hard evidence. The table below identifies the specific project activities, outputs and outcomes that have been identified by the project and their relationship with the project's objectives. Where appropriate, we have also included town centre performance data from the baseline that will help to track the 'results chain' and performance of the project.

Table 4.10: Kirkcaldy: Project Specific Measures: Overview

Objectives/ Activities Outputs Short Term Outcomes: 2011 Interim Term Outcomes: 2013 Longer Term Outcomes: 2015+ Measure In Place
The overarching aim of the project is to make Kirkcaldy town centre a safe, attractive and vibrant place to live, work learn, visit invest and do business.
Replacement of existing paving Increased quality and safety of Kirkcaldy Town Centre Improved Local and Visitor perception of Kirkcaldy town centre image Greater satisfaction and pride with Kirkcaldy Town Centre Town centre perception survey
New street and amenity lighting: area Safer and more pleasant environment Increase perception of safety Less anti-social behaviour, enhanced safety Crime statistics
New seating/benches: number Improved space for meeting and interacting Locals and visitors use Kirkcaldy Town Centre more Increased local pride/visitor perception of Kirkcaldy TC Town centre perception survey
Signage strategy including finger post and orientation boards Key public places are highlighted, publicised and accessible Increased awareness of town centre attractions and town heritage Sustained use of local retail and improved business performance Town centre perception survey
Installation of Wi-Fi Increased Wi-Fi connectivity Enhanced visitor welcome/ experience Increased footfall and local spend Fife Retail Study Wi-Fi usage monitoring Pedestrian counters
Green corridor Improved environment Enhanced visitor welcome/ experience Increased footfall and local spend Town centre perception survey
Widening of footpath/cycle ways Improved and safer access/ environment for pedestrians More journeys made on foot/cycle Reduced number of short car journeys Increased environmental sustainability and reduced pollution Carbon measurement
Addition of civic spaces Improved space for meeting and interacting Locals and visitors use Kirkcaldy Town Centre more Higher footfall and dwelling times Fife Retail Study and pedestrian counters
Refurbishment vacant/ significant buildings/shop fronts (via linkage to CARS) Key public places are protected, publicised & accessible Increased awareness & knowledge of town heritage & quality of buildings Good rental returns. Enhanced capital values/ higher density letting Fife Retail Study
Town centre perception survey

Progress: Jan/Early Feb 2011

4.39 Progress of the Kirkcaldy project at January 2011 was as follows:

  • Following a tender process the appointed contractor, Graham Construction Ltd, started onsite in July 2010. At the time of writing, they are currently resurfacing pavements and installing street furniture at various locations in the town centre;
  • There has been considerable delay to the project due to the procurement of materials, in particular granite from the Far East. There have also been delays as a result of issues with sub contractors and additional utility diversions;
  • Due to the scale of the works taking place in the town centre there is a liaison officer to manage the expectations of affected businesses. Furthermore, the decision was taken that work over the Christmas break would be suspended from 4 th December to 4 th January to allow shops to trade without disruption;
  • The installation of Wi-Fi is due to begin and will be launched in May 2011.

4.40 The project is currently on budget but behind schedule. It is estimated that just over a third of the works have been completed. The completed works are of a very high standard.

4.41 In terms of monitoring there is an annual town centre perception study undertaken by Fife Council, a major traffic survey undertaken every three years and footfall counters are now in place.


4.42 The regeneration of Kirkcaldy town centre is a priority for Fife Council and there are a number of ongoing initiatives that are working towards this. The team at Fife Council are experienced in implementing large scale infrastructure-led projects.

4.43 The project has been well received so far, however, there does not appear to be unexpected results created by the project. This could be because of the 'fit' of the previous and on-going initiatives to regenerate the town centre.

4.44 The BID is working closely with the Council on a number of strategies to help improve the vitality and viability of the town centre. This includes initiatives such as:

  • Temporary pop-up shops;
  • Targeting certain businesses to locate in the town;
  • Retail projects in conjunction with the local college.

4.45 It would have been beneficial for the running of the project if it had not run over the Christmas period as it was felt that the works were very disruptive for businesses during their busiest period.

Case Study Interview Details

Main Contact Name David J Brown
Position Lead Officer Transport Planning
Organisation Fife Council
Phone Number / Mobile 08451 555555 ex 471809
Other Contacts:
Name Dom Panetta
Position Chair of Kirkcaldy BID (Formally on Board of KTCM)
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