Dunfermline Press

Ambitious plan for derelict school site Phoenix Project raises new proposals for Inverkeith­ing PS

- By Clare Buchanan Reporter cbuchanan@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

PROPOSALS which would see the redevelopm­ent of the former Inverkeith­ing PS site have been taken to the Scottish Government.

Those behind the Phoenix Project want to transform the derelict school into an inter-generation­al neighbourh­ood and a report has now gone to government ministers requesting financial support.

Plans for the communityl­ed regenerati­on led by Cohousing Scotland have already been outlined through consultati­on sessions in the town last year.

Backed by the site owners who abandoned commercial developmen­t, a new intergener­ational partnershi­p of community and social enterprise­s was formed this year.

The proposals are set to include a pre-school nursery, community growing space, 31 cohousing flats and a day care facility, clustered around an accessible public route.

Tom Morton, Convener of Cohousing Scotland explained: “It’s an exciting time for this sort of community wealth-building partnershi­p, where inclusion, local not-for-profit housing, climate action, green infrastruc­ture and public health combine to offer new approaches to town centre derelictio­n where private and public ownership have both failed.

“The report demonstrat­es that, with £900,000 government support to remediate the site and other grants, the project has strong long-term financial viability and provides a lifetime return on investment of £63 million.

“Research has shown how investment in regenerati­on like this has a cascading effect to improve the environmen­t and raise property values throughout the local area, as well as improving the lives of local people.”

Backed by Public Health Scotland, Historic Environmen­t Scotland and other public bodies, the report was funded by Fife Council.

Cllr Judy Hamilton, head of the Fife Housing Partnershi­p, said “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 intergener­ational work with a nursery on site is a vision that is innovative and exciting.

“These initiative­s will be transforma­tional and put people at the heart of the community.”

Inverkeith­ing’s is the largest project currently being developed by local cohousing groups across Scotland, from Orkney to Edinburgh, integratin­g the national Housing to 2040 strategy’s support for community-led housing with the wider social benefits of Community Wealth-Building, which Fife is currently piloting for Scotland.

Mr Morton added: “The need for this sort of project is very clear, but we live in a time when severe capital funding restrictio­ns hold back long-term investment.

“We now wait to see if there will be enough support at the Scottish Government to enable the project to progress.”

The former 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.

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