How millions of pounds will be spent regenerating Levenmouth

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Speak to a resident of Levenmouth just a few months ago, and one would often hear the same complaint – that the Levenmouth area was the forgotten part of Fife.

And the evidence made it hard to disagree.

It is the only big town in Fife without a major transport link – every other town, from Cupar to Dunfermline, is served by either the A91 or the A92 – and the campaign to restore the rail link seemed to be in limbo.

The High Street appeared to show no signs of recovery, with the biggest stores still empty years after the former occupiers moved out.

And the River Leven, once a central part of the area, had been left to deteriorate.

All of these problems, and more, gave Levenmouth folk the feeling that it was being left behind while other towns in Fife received more support.

But could the fortunes of Levenmouth be about to change?

Is the regeneration of the Levenmouth area set to begin?

Millions of pounds will be invested in the Levenmouth area over the next decade, spent on everything from improving transport links to boosting the High Street.

The announcement of the reopening of the Levenmouth rail link earlier this month was celebrated as a huge step in the regeneration of the area.

It came just months after funding was announced for improvements for the High Street and the River Leven.

It is hoped the rail link could be open within the next five years, the River Leven upgraded by 2030, and the High Street funding spent by early next 2020,

All of this together could mark a new beginning for the Levenmouth area.

HIGH STREET

Leven’s High Street, like most UK town centres, has struggled over the last few years. The closure of big stores like WHSmith and Cumming of Leven left huge, noticeable, gaps on the High Street.

But earlier this year Fife Council made the decision to spend £800,000 of Scottish Government town centre funding on Leven – £350,000 on buying up and refurbishing vacant dilapidated town centre units and investment on the key connection route between the High Street and edge of centre retail park, and £450,000 to deliver phase two of the town’s regeneration plan.

The creation of Levenmouth Together, a new project aimed at regenerating the High Street, has also started to pay dividends.

Bids have been put in for the WHSmith and Cumming of Leven buildings.

The organisation also set up the new Leven Food and Drink Festival, as well as a running festival and movie event, all with the aim of attracting more people to the town and encouraging people to explore the High Street.

RAIL LINK

The Scottish Government announced earlier this month that it would be spending around £75 million on reopening the Levenmouth rail link.

The Transport Secretary highlighted that the rail line will bring economic, employment and education benefits to the area.

Transport Scotland has already started work on the next stage of the project, working on the report which will explain what work needs to be done to reopen the line.

It is expected that passengers will be able to travel from the Leven station, proposed to be built adjacent to the bus station, to Edinburgh in around 70-75 minutes, although it could end up being quicker. But the investment will not just be in rail. The funds will also see improvements to bus services and active travel provision.

RIVER LEVEN

Last month, a new partnership outlined its plans for the future of the River Leven.

The aim, by 2030, is to have a network of paths and sustainable travel routes, to attract tourism and make the river one of the area’s biggest economic attractions, and to make use of derelict and vacant land, among other goals for the future.

While work will be done along the whole length of the river, from Levenmouth to Loch Leven, the project will start at the mouth of the river.

The first part of the project will focus on a 5km stretch towards Levenmouth.

It will deliver environmental improvements, develop paths to link the nearby communities to the river, and unlock opportunities provided by vacant land.