True fact: the approach to Denny is better than the road into Lochgelly.  What comes next, however, is a Battenburg-coloured eyesore in desperate need of revitalisation.

Lochgelly is accessed via a series of roundabouts from the A92, the West Fife Expressway, and cuts across the miles of no-man’s land which overlooks former pit tips, and the Mossmorran Gas Terminal, near the Ore valley.  Denny is reached along a road which passes through rolling countryside, between stands of mature trees and pastureland in the Carron Valley: once it reaches civilisation, the villas prove that in the past Denny didn’t lack ambition nor the will to invest money in the community.  However, today it feels like Denny has more structural unemployment than its counterpart in Fife, though it also has one major “carbuncle” building at its heart.

Inside the former Carrongrove papermill, now demolished.

Like Lochgelly, the reasons for Denny being nominated as a run-down carbuncle town could be down to pure economics.  The demise of Carrongrove papermill came in 2005: it has now been demolished to make way for a McTaggart Mickel housing development, but the wound is still tender, as we discovered when a former mill worker approached us in the street, to offer his take on the town’s problems.  Carrongrove was one of the earliest, and largest mechanised papermills in Britain.  Ironically, major investment by the Georgia Pacific company in Carrongrove during the 1980’s had transformed it, making a coated card which was profitable even to the end, and worthwhile for Tullis Russell to buy and continue manufacturing themselves.  Denny’s loss was Markinch’s gain.

The folk of Denny were freer and more voluble with their opinions than residents anywhere else we visited; there was universal agreement that the shopping parade on Church Walk and Stirling Street has to come down.  In the 1990’s, a new coat of render with a Battenburg cake colour scheme did nothing to cheer it up – especially because the parapet flashings have failed, and large sheets of render have come away from the blockwork.  Car park, shops and flats are linked with walkways straight out of A Clockwork Orange, their concrete streaming with water leaks.  On a human level, one block of flats was apparently let out to “undesirables”, and not even the MacGuyvering with bedding plants and hanging baskets manages to improve that aspect.  I can’t help feeling they are just a mudflap on the battle tank of Dereliction.

Denny shares a Town Centre Manager with other neighbouring towns, and Falkirk Council have well-developed plans to re-develop the Battenburg, working with Henry Boot as their development partner to demolish the five-storey blocks and build new two storey shopping parades in their place.  The issue of scale is one thing, but another problem which the redevelopment may not solve is that of building lines: set too far back from the street edge, the proposal feels less urban than it might.  The Council plans have been held up by the credit crunch, and meantime Keppie will revise their masterplan to suit.  So far, they have identified that there is no commercial demand for offices, nor is there a will to build flats here again, so the redevelopment will consist almost entirely of small shops with a retail anchor (perhaps an Aldi or Lidl type of supermarket) plus a library.

Inside the former Carrongrove papermill, now demolished.

So Denny’s regeneration has taken on at least two aspects: firstly a housing estate on the site of the cluster of papermills on the Carron at Fankerton, which gradually coalesced into Carrongrove over the course of two centuries.  Its cathedral-like esparto sheds, the mill’s giant power station, and the breathtaking scale of the Twinwire machine have gone, to be replaced with tattie print bungalows.  Secondly – in the town centre, the ill-suited shopping parade will come down, with new buildings and a revised road layout intended to remove traffic from Stirling Street, and focus it instead on pedestrians and shops. 

The need for redevelopment of the shopping area is far more pressing than the need for more spec. bungalows, and perhaps too important to rely on “market forces” delivering it.


This entry was posted by and is filed under Uncategorized.
By • Galleries: Uncategorized

No feedback yet