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'Depressed' town wins Plook award

29 January 09 15:01 GMT

A Fife town has been selected for an undesirable architectural prize for its "depressed investment-starved centre".

Glenrothes has been named the most dismal place in Scotland in the 2009 Carbuncles Awards.

It beat off stiff competition from Motherwell in Lanarkshire and New Cumnock in Ayrshire.

The infamous Plook-on-the-Plinth is given by design magazine Prospect to the place deemed the worst for planning and architecture.

Gordon Young, who edits Prospect and the Architecture Scotland website, said: "A primary criteria is that the town shortlisted must have real potential, which local leaders for one reason or another are failing to exploit.

"We are not interested in criticising deprived areas which are dismal through no fault of their own.

"We believe the truly depressing places are the ones that are being stifled by a lack of attention, creativity and ambition.

"Glenrothes certainly fits these criteria. There is nothing wrong with the town itself. But the people who live there are being badly let down by its depressing town centre, which could and should be better.

"The place is crying out for more civic space. Instead what is offered is a drab shopping mall, surrounded by depressing car parks.

"Inside, shoppers are subjected to a threadbare 80s interior. The centre is busy, but this is because of a lack of competition in the region."

The award has apparently won the support of many in the community who hope it might serve as a catalyst for much needed regeneration.

Regeneration suggestions

Ronald Page is from the Glenrothes Area Futures Group, which is made up of community councils, resident groups and local churches.

He said: "This award coincides with the aims and objectives of the Glenrothes Area Futures Group, set up one year ago and very much supported by the people in this area, especially in terms of a quest for a new Glenrothes town centre plan.

"We reckon Fife Council has ignored the Glenrothes area for 10 to 15 years."

Prospect magazine and Architecture Scotland now plan to bring a conference to Glenrothes this spring, which will examine the challenges facing Scottish small towns in general and Glenrothes in particular.

Leading Scottish architects, including firms such as 3DReid, will also put forward suggestions on how the town might be regenerated.

Colin McColl, one of the judges, said: "I feel that with some work Glenrothes would reignite the optimism of the original new town ideals."

Peter Grant, Fife Council leader, said the award was given by: "People who are completely out of touch with the excellent work being done in Glenrothes by council staff, the Kingdom Centre Management Team, and hundreds of dedicated community volunteers.

"Almost everywhere you go in the town you have green open spaces within a few yards. This is due to the vision of those who created Glenrothes more than 60 years ago. Glenrothes is a great place to live and work."

He added: "Already I'm being contacted by some of these volunteers who feel they've been kicked in the teeth as part of a cheap publicity stunt to boost sales of a magazine that neither they nor possibly anybody in Glenrothes has ever heard of."

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