Glenrothes was designated in 1948 as Scotland’s second new town, to provide housing for miners at the experimental Rothes Colliery.
Brooks Murray were asked to design a masterplan for a mixed-use development to the regenerate the town, bringing an extra 400 houses and over 100,000 square feet of industrial, commercial and community space. The design aims to provide a high quality residential neighbourhood on the northern part of the site, built in phases, which will help to fund twenty-first century industrial facilities to the south.
Within 4 years of the New Town’s designation, the mine was affected by uncontrollable flooding and the state-of-the art facility shut, leaving only the huge concrete mine head standing at Thornton. The planning, development, management and promotion of Glenrothes was the responsibility of the Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC). Following the colliery’s failure, alternative employment opportunities had to be found and the emphasis was switched to attracting new industries, including the manufacturing of electronic components, computers, and plastics. First generation industrial estates were developed to accommodate these new technologies. Over one million square feet of employment floor space was built along with 5000 Council homes, with many occupants derived from Glasgow overspill and the failing coalfields of the Lothians.
The masterplan has been designed so that within phase one, additional screen planting can be established which will add to the already dense planting along the main road (Whitehill Road). The planting has been designed to be retained for the later phases to create screening of future housing from Whitehill Road. The design of this scheme has a new commercial centre at its heart, which includes 66,000 sq ft of live/work units, 8,000 sq ft of retail space, 7,000 sq ft for convenience stores, 21,000 sq ft of office space and 4,500 sq ft of community space.
The overall design approach sensitively takes into consideration the history of Glenrothes and the local vernacular of surrounding Fife. Reference has been made to the Fife Urban Design Guide along with other publications such as the Planning advice note on New Residential Streets, Housing Quality and a policy statement for Scotland: Designing Places. In developing the proposal, historic towns of Fife have been studied as working examples of the built environment.
The principles exemplified by the New Urbanism approach to reviving the public realm whilst pursuing traditional and historic principles to promote interesting, vibrant, sustainable communities is fundamental to the proposed new community.