Progress in Cupar

Bill Pagan, Board member of BEFS and founding Board member of Cupar Development Trust, reports on progress following Cupar’s CharrettePlus.

Progress in Cupar

Progress in Cupar

It is now well over two years since Cliff Hague led the BEFS visit to Cupar, one of the two additional towns covered by their Small Towns Scotland initiative, 18 months since the proposed Cupar Development Trust (CDT) began to take shape, and over six months since PAS ran the successful CharrettePlus in the town. Even when there are enthusiasts in the local community, wheels turn slowly – partly because of the essential task of bringing the wider community along-side, but of course mainly because cash has to be found for every stage of proposals selected – including the costs of preparing applications for larger-scale funding.

The final report from PAS was welcomed, and has been considered by the town’s coordinating group. It is accepted that there are no easy, cheap or instant fixes. The ambitions, though not spelled out in these terms, follow Geddes’ principles of looking at “Folk, Work, Place”.

One tangible – literally – development has been the re-issue of Cupar’s Heritage Trail guide. This leaflet was originally published as a joint venture between the Millennium Committee of the Community Council and Fife Council, with text researched and written by Dr. Paula Martin. It was a success, and was reprinted in 2005.

There is no shortage of supportive organisations active in Cupar!  One of the display boards at the Charrette listed many of them – as this photograph shows.

The republication this month was a joint venture between Cupar Development Trust and Cupar Heritage (CH), with support from the Community Council, Cupar and North Fife Preservation Society, ABCD Cupar Business Association, and Fife Family History Society.  Assistance came also from Fife Council, Fife Historic Buildings Trust, Historic Environment Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, through the CARS and THI schemes already in progress.

And of course other important organisations, not necessarily dedicated to the town of Cupar only, include the local Tourism Association, which welcomes the republication of the leaflet.

The Heritage Trail leaflet was launched at a reception on 22nd November, to which 20 organisations had been invited to send representatives, and which was in fact attended by over 40 people. The reception was held in Cupar’s impressive County Hall, where the initial BEFS meeting had been held, and was formally hosted by the Community Council.

CDT have applied to the Activating Ideas fund of Scottish Government for funds to cover the cost of consultants to prepare a marketing plan for the Heritage Trail, including sign-posting and full interpretation.

The Board of CDT are heavily engaged in the assessment of the “Inner Court” proposal, which was developed before the Charrette, but exhibited there and well received.  It is a bold proposal for the regeneration of a vacant and derelict area in the heart of Cupar town centre, lying between the narrows of the Bonnygate (where the infamous “Gap Site” is prominent) and the width of the Crossgate.

The details are commercially confidential, but it is no secret that the major player is expected to be Kingdom Housing, working in partnership with some of the present proprietors. The original Inner Court report, prepared by Cupar-based architects Arc Architects, can be found on the CDT website.

It is of course not only CDT and CH who have been active. For example, further from the town centre, Sustainable Cupar have completed the reinstatement of the Old Moor Road to Ceres – a right of way shown on Roy’s military map of 1746.

The CARS and THI schemes, managed by Fife Historic Buildings Trust,  have greatly improved Cupar’s street-scape with their work in St Catherine Street, as the before and after photographs show.

Cupar’s Christmas Fayre, leading up to the switching-on of the annual lights, was another occasion for local organisations to take stands and explain their work.  CDT’s was a well-visited stand, and an encouraging number of applications for membership were handed in, while the Chairman entered into the festive mood!

The next major event for CDT is its first AGM, to be held on 1st December, in one of Cupar’s major new assets – the Howe of Fife Rugby Club’s new sports complex. On that occasion, CDT hope to be able to announce that the Activating Ideas application has been successful, and that accordingly the selection process for the consultants will be starting early in the new year. The present eight Board members look forward to welcoming to the AGM both founding and new members of CDT, and hope that additional Board members will be elected.

The formalities of the AGM should be relatively brief. The guest speaker is Diarmaid Lawlor, whose title is Partnerships for Places.  It will be fascinating to hear Diarmaid’s view on how, in a small town like Cupar, the existing, dedicated and energetic organisations can make the total of their valued contributions add up to more than the sum of the parts.

The lessons for Cupar from BEFS’ Small Towns Scotland report have been taken on board, and the Charrette process has proved valuable. The then Minister, Marco Biagi, commented on the evident citizen involvement in the Charrette process, and commended CDT and PAS on the high level of community engagement. If BEFS is able to get the information, it will be interesting to see how the other seven towns visited in the Scotland’s Small Towns process have fared since their respective visits, and to what extent they have been able to run with BEFS’ comments and suggestions for their towns. The CDT Board plans to visit some towns in Angus in the spring to see what can be learned from them – some having been through the Charrette process, but none having been included in the BEFS visits.

Meantime, Cupar will be delighted if you visit the CDT website or follow progress via, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Bill Pagan