BUSINESSES are getting a head start in Dalgety Bay by trying to snap up new premises that haven't even been built yet.

Interest in starter units being built by Fife Council in a £1.8 million project at West Way, in the Hillend and Donibristle Industrial Estate, has been so strong that they've now bought another site to construct more.

Local councillor David Barratt had been asked by Dalgety Bay Community Council what was happening with vacant and derelict sites on the estate.

He reported "positive progress" and told the Press: "Construction has started on the starter units on West Way, funded by the Longannet Task Force, which is welcome.

"And it's now been confirmed that with money from the City Deal, the old auction house and former officers' mess has been purchased by the council for a similar reason to West Way.

"There's high demand for more modern starter units, and getting small businesses in and allowing them to grow is the best way of growing the Fife economy."

Ironically, the council bought the Ridge Way site from Springfield Properties, who said in 2014 that their plan to build 56 homes there would help prevent “the wider decline” of the industrial estate.

No homes were built and the council have now bought it back for industrial use, with more small business units to come.

Cllr Barratt added: "It's a significant investment, with support from the Scottish and UK governments, and it's good news it's coming to Dalgety Bay.

"It shows the potential for economic growth in the area that there's demand for units that there aren't any plans in for yet!"

The SNP councillor for Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay said the site where the Maxwell buildings used to stand – they were demolished in 2016 – at the entrance to the estate had been bought and he added: "The fact someone thinks enough of it to buy the land and continue to market it as a development opportunity is an encouraging sign."

A sale is going through at the old skate park on Ridge Way and he added that there was "potential for progress" at the Prattis site, on Muirton Way, which has planning permission for starter and trade counter units, offices and a retail unit.

He said: "I've seen some comments that there are still vacant units but if they're not being taken it's an indication that they're not suitable.

"No-one wants to see sites empty for years on end so we're trying to see what can be done.

"I think what's needed from Fife Council, to some degree, is flexibility about uses on site and allowing businesses to explore different opportunities."

While the numbers may have fluctuated since the council's action plan to revive the Hillend and Donibristle Industrial Estate was launched in 2013, at that time it had around 120 firms and more than 2,000 employees based there. It also had seven of the top 100 businesses in Fife.

Cllr Barratt said: "I'm not sure if people appreciate the extent of economic activity in Dalgety Bay, the range and different variety of businesses that are there.

"The industrial estate is definitely a positive for the town."

Despite the positive update, he admitted he "had no clue" what was happening with the proposed Costa Coffee drive-thru or the Dobbies site.

He said: "Dobbies is an odd one. I looked at the land registry and it was sold but from Dobbies to Dobbies, two different shell companies both owned by Dobbies.

"I had hoped it would be sold to a shell company I could then link to a business, like KFC, McDonald's, a gym or whatever, but no. I'm not sure what it means for the site."

Cllr Barratt added: "One thing Dalgety Bay could do with is more activities for people to do. I also don't think there are enough cafes, there's no soft play venue and there's not a huge amount for secondary school-aged children."