A new visitor centre planned for a popular Fife park has been likened to a prison cell block amid public outcry over its design.
Lochore Meadows Country Park’s existing centre is to be bulldozed this week to make way for its £1 million replacement, which it is proposed will be named after former councillor Willie Clarke.
But many locals are outraged at images of the new structure and claim the public has not been consulted.
A public meeting is to be held on Monday by Benarty Community Forum.
Although planning permission is yet to be issued for the new, smaller building with larger café, the old one is about to be knocked down.
More than 500,000 people visit the ‘Meedies’ each year and around a fifth are expected to use the new centre, which is to include an interpretation area with coal heritage artefacts and a multi-purpose area for corporate, education and community use.
A new golf clubhouse, pavilion and other improvements are also planned.
Benarty community councillor Brian Menzies said there was overwhelming support for the centre to be named after Mr Clarke, who served the area for four decades, but added: “We must have a centre that is fit for his name to go on.
“The centre is just shy of a third smaller and for the amount of visitors that go there, that’s a big problem.”
Opinion is divided over the modern design of the proposed new black-clad and timber building.
Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing has urged the council to put the project on hold until the public have their say.
In a letter to council leader Councillor David Ross she said it was “inconceivable” there had been no consultation and that she shared significant concerns about the design.
Mr Ross insisted there had been considerable consultation but admitted, given the concerns being raised at such a stage, it “could perhaps have been better”.
He said: “It is worth reflecting there will be significant overall investment of £1.8m in the country park delivering not only a much needed replacement for the visitor centre, but a new integrated golf clubhouse and a changing pavilion and a further extension of an already popular network of mountain bike trails.”
The planning application has been published since May without objection and plans have been on display in Benarty Library and at the centre during several key events, including the Lochore pipe band competition and Benarty Gala.
The existing visitor centre on the banks is Loch Ore is considered outdated and the council said its replacement had the potential to attract a greater proportion of park users and make a considerable economic contribution to the park and local area.
The meeting organised by Benarty Community Forum is to be held in Lochore Miners’ Welfare Institute tonight at 7.30pm.