MORE than 400 people showed their “passion for Dunfermline” by attending a four-day event to breathe new life into the town centre.

The £450,000 community project wanted local suggestions on how to ‘fix’ the problems and create a bright future.

Public squares, bringing a cinema back to the town centre, attractive entrances and more accommodation were all proposed, as well as re-using long term empty buildings such as the old registry office in Abbot Street.

Design Dunfermline sessions were held at City Chambers and Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries.

Kevin Murray, an expert in urban design involved in the project, said: “The Dunfermline event has had a great response in terms of numbers, enthusiasm and passion. Local people and businesses, community groups, high school students, Fife Council planners, councillors and local MP, Douglas Chapman, all brought constructive ideas and a passion for Dunfermline to the table.”

Design Dunfermline has more than £300,000 of lottery money and cash from the Scottish Government while Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, Dunfermline Carnegie Trust and Dunfermline Delivers have boosted the total to just over £444,000.

On the first day, groups were asked to list the strengths and weaknesses of the town centre.

Green space for recreation scored highly, as did heritage and history, but Dunfermline was held back by a lack of marketing and promotion, street clutter such as bins and bollards, lack of consistent signage and a poor range of shops.

Asked to come up with a vision of how the town centre should look in 20 years time, a highly diverse streetscape emerged where people live, work and learn side by side.

Business ‘incubation’ hubs, shared learning centres and workshops combined with retail space were all ideas to inspire future innovation and entrepreneurs.

While converting areas above shops into flats would help bring more people to live in the town centre.

As well as the long term vision for the town centre, Design Dunfermline looked at specific projects that might progress to a feasibility study.

Suggestions included a public square in front of the old Erskine Church, turning St Margaret’s House into hostel holiday accommodation, bringing the former registry office back to life and restoring the Robins cinema, giving it a filmhouse vibe with a café/bar.

Strengthening and celebrating gateway entrances to the town centre, such as Glen Bridge, Pilmuir Street and East Port, could help create a stronger impact on arrival and encourage people to stay.

Sam Foster, the local architect coordinating the team, said: “The event was an intense four days and we’ll be writing up the report over the summer.

“Many of the ideas are long term projects which require hard work, a lot of planning and fundraising, as well as patience.

“What the last four days have shown us though, is, that we have a passionate and hardworking local community.”

Photos by Jim Payne.