KINCARDINE took a massive step towards a new and brighter future after four days of intensive research and consultations between residents and a team of planners, architects and artists.

The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) organised Go Forth Kincardine, a design charrette, and co-funded the £40,000 cost of bringing in Architects Oliver Chapman and his team of experts to run the exercise.

The event ran Mr Chapman was full of praise for the some-200 local people who engaged with the project.

He said: "Their enthusiasm, imagination, and commitment have been hugely impressive. People with all sorts of different interests and ideas worked together extremely well."

The four-day programme produced ten viable propositions including a proposal to lobby Transport Scotland to downgrade the trunk road status of the Northern Approach road which runs through the centre of Kincardine from the Bridge to the junction with the A977.

Mr Chapman said: "Kincardine is a well connected town, but up till now people have seen it just as a gateway to Fife and not a destination in its own right.

"Local people want to change that. The village is steeped in history, has some fascinating architecture dating back for several centuries, is on the edge of Devilla Forest and has real potential as a tourist centre.

"Downgrading the Northern Approach is a viable option thanks to the new Clackmannan and Forth crossing bridges, and that would create huge opportunities to make the village much more visitor friendly."

The consultation process also identified opportunities to create jobs, capitalising on Kincardine's experience of hosting major industries like the Longannet Power Station and the need for a museum or visitors centre to capitalise on its heritage.

One of the first events was a series of walkabout of the village designed to help local people see their surroundings through new eyes.

Planner and facilitator Kevin Murray, who organised the walking tours, said: "The walkabouts helped people look at things through other than their own interests, and see how different perspectives could be brought together to create something bigger that could have a greater impact in the future. "

Another highlight was the Open all Mics, session, a succession of quick-fire presentations which revealed a fascinating snapshot of village life.

Fourteen volunteers speakers, many of them facing a public audience for the first time, had just three minutes and ten slides each to reveal their personal perspective on the area.

The speakers included early years nursery teacher Jane Turnbull who wants to create an outdoor classroom in Devilla Forrest, and Scout Master Colin O'Neill who said Scout numbers are on the increase, both among boys and girls.

Helen Baker of Kincardine Community Centre said their Community Café was committed to providing healthy eating for everyone, and that she would like to replace the Centre's now demolished sports hall.

Morag Thompson and her son Ray run a dog grooming service, with Ray practicing Rieki, a form of hands on alternative therapy.

Lizzie Ward, 21, a volunteer waitress in the Community Centre Café praised Kincardine's friendliness and warmth, which had helped her and husband Richard, the volunteer chef at the Café, turn their lives around after being homeless and living rough on the streets of Edinburgh.

Lizzie said: "We are so happy to be here and so lucky to have the support of the Café, it's staff and local people generally. Kincardine is a great place to live and we want to stay here and start a family."

Pauline Douglas revealed the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has bought the old bank building and along with Fife Council is busy converting it into an Enterprise and Training Hub.

CRT Scottish trustees thanked Oliver Chapman Associates, Fife Council, Longannet Task Force and the eight strong CRT for all their hard work planning, preparing and delivering the charrette.

Nicky Wilson said he would like to see the freight only line through Kincardine developed as a passenger line running from Dunfermline to Edinburgh, while Bob Young said he would like to see the Fife Costal Path have its staring point in the heart of Kincardine.