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Plans to breathe new life into Leven High Street given cash backing

The High Street unit in Leven could soon be put to good use.
The High Street unit in Leven could soon be put to good use.

Ambitious plans to breathe new life into a disused building in Leven High Street have been given a cash boost.

Councillors on the Levenmouth area committee have agreed a contribution of £20,000 from the local community planning budget towards the project, which will see the former WH Smith building purchased, renovated and adapted for a range of different uses.

The building has lain derelict for almost four years after the book and stationery store closed.

Third sector charity BRAG Enterprises is leading the initiative to buy the property, for £210,000 and spend £140,000 fitting it out, funded through a £350,000 grant from the Scottish Government Town Centre Fund.

Business opportunities

Once complete, uses including an Escape Room and indoor golf have been mooted, although the huge unit will also provide opportunities for useable meeting space, touchdown facilities and flexible community use space.

Committee members conceded the business plan will need further scrutiny, but were delighted to approve the funding to help the project progress and bring the prominent building back into use.

Community manager David Paterson said: “This approach has been supported by concerns raised over the years by elected members and local people about the problematic state of high streets, and their weakening ability to act as economic drivers for their respective areas.

“These concerns were contained in the recent Mid Fife Economic and its Focus on Place which noted there is a need for infrastructure investment.

“This includes continuing work to repurpose town centres, recognising that the changing retail market is having profound effects on town centres which requires this activity to be replaced with greater social uses, social connectivity and a focus on user experience, including the evening economy.

“The business planning approach by our partners in BRAG clearly supports this aspiration in terms of overcoming the issue of market failure, where large scale retail floorspace is no longer required by retailers due to online opportunities.”

The current proposal will see BRAG take full possession of the High Street property, but Fife Council will though hold a standard security over the property.

That means that, in the event of any issue causing BRAG to withdraw, the property would revert back to the ownership of the council.

Local Labour councillor Colin Davidson described the news as “excellent”.

“This will revitalise the heart of the town, create employment and business opportunities,” he added.

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