An long-awaited £1.4 million project to transform Kirkcaldy’s dilapidated waterfront could finally get under way in the spring.
Councillors have agreed to allocate the final piece in the funding jigsaw to pave the way towards changing the Esplanade from a busy traffic-filled thoroughfare to an attractive leisure area.
The first step will be to reduce the road layout from two lanes in each direction to just one between Tolbooth Street and the Port Brae.
That would leave more room for parking, pop-up businesses, cafes and an outdoor gym.
The ultimate aim is to make the most of what is arguably Kirkcaldy’s best natural asset, currently used as a route through the town by drivers who rarely stop there.
It has been hailed as ambitious yet deliverable after decades of “outrageous and unmanageable” schemes being put forward and coming to nothing.
The public have been urged to get behind the proposals, which will go out for consultation later this month before a formal planning application is submitted.
Labour councillor Neil Crooks, convener of Kirkcaldy area committee, said: “Part of the culture of Kirkcaldy is a reluctance to take a chance and to concentrate on the past rather than the future.
“What we are trying to do is present an opportunity.
“This has been 10 years in the making by this area committee but prior to that people were progressing plans for the waterfront that I would describe as outrageous and unmanageable.
“We have made a plan and cut it into slices that are potentially deliverable.”
Fellow Labour councillor David Ross, Fife Council’s co-leader, said the plans reflected what people had asked for.
“We’re connecting the Esplanade to the High Street much more and having spaces that are useable for enjoyment and leisure,” he said.
“Some of us have been here long enough to remember the plan for piers.
“Now we actually have something that’s achieveable and will be delivered.”
Mr Ross said he had been assured by engineers that traffic flow along the Esplanade would be maintained without additional congestion, despite the loss of a lane in each direction.
“We do need to be prepared for the fact there will probably be a kick back from some people,” he added.
“The consultation needs to make sure it’s not just those who are against it who take the opportunity to comment.”
The project has been described as a mini version of what Dundee has achieved with its waterfront. The consultation will begin at the end of this month, running till just before the school holidays.
It will involve displays in the Mercat and afternoon and evening question and answer sessions in the leisure centre.