AN INITIATIVE aimed at regenerating the old Inverkeithing Primary School site has taken a step forward.

The next stage of the Phoenix Project, which sets out to transform the derelict school into an inter-generational neighbourhood, has now received Fife Council backing.

The former primary school, parts of which date back to 1874, was left in ruins after a major fire in November 2018.

There have been plans to demolish the building and redevelop the site, and previous proposals to knock it down and build 28 homes were withdrawn after opposition from Historic Environment Scotland.

A community-led regeneration is now being explored and, earlier this year, charity Cohousing Scotland held a roadshow event to bring together key stakeholders and outline its proposals to interested parties.

It is hoped another session will be held in the town early in 2023 to reveal the latest plans.

Cohousing Scotland's Norrie McPhail explained: "Three years ago, the masterplan drawn up with the Inverkeithing Trust was stopped by the COVID pandemic.

"Now there is a real opportunity to show a new model for regeneration as an investment in social capital and community wellbeing.

"The project brings together cohousing, a nursery, community food-growing, urban rewilding and an accessible public route to the High Street, demonstrating the benefits of integrated 20-minute neighbourhoods where private development has failed."

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor David Barratt said: "The project still has some way to go, but further financial support from the council, and constructive discussions with the Scottish Government are a welcome development.

"The existing site is a scar on the town and the proposals would deliver on many local priorities beyond the rehabilitation of the site, including the safeguarding of built heritage, the provision of much-needed, innovative housing and greater choice of quality childcare provision."

Cllr Judy Hamilton, head of the Fife Housing Partnership, added: "Having worked with partners on the potential to develop Cohousing and community-owned housing in Fife for a number of years, I am so delighted to see the Inverkeithing site come forward.

"Community-owned and self-build housing is part of the council's Strategic Housing Investment Plan and identified in our Local Housing Strategy.

"To incorporate inter-generational work with a nursery on site is a vision that is innovative and exciting. I look forward to the business plan being brought forward. These initiatives will be transformational and put people at the heart of the community."

Tom Morton, director of lead consultants Arc Architects, said there was "a lot of support" for new approaches to derelict sites in the post-COVID world.

He said there was "real recognition" of the benefits that a focus on inclusion and wellbeing could have for creating successful town centres and resilient communities.