HUNDREDS of homes, industrial units and a leisure centre are to be built on the site of a historic paper mill in a bid to regenerate an unemployment blackspot.

Plans have been lodged that would see the huge Tullis Russell Paper Mill site in Markinch, Fife, undergo a multi-million pound transformation aimed at breathing new life into the derelict area.

Founded in 1809, it was one of the last survivors of Scotland’s once mighty paper-making industry but it was closed in 2015, with the loss of more than 500 jobs, in a massive economic blow for the town.

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Now Bellshill-based firm Advance Construction has submitted plans for a major regeneration project which will transform the site and bring hundreds of jobs and people into the area.

The company is proposing around 850 homes as well as retail and leisure facilities business space, industrial units and a new care home at the old paper mill site.

At the heart of the 58-hectare land between Glenrothes and Markinch is an extension to Riverside Park, which will see the reclamation of an unused brownfield site to create another park that connects the new district to the town centre.

Lynsey Breen, development manager for Advance Construction, said the plans will spark regeneration of the town of Glenrothes.

She said: “Advance Construction’s plans to deliver a significant number of new homes, together with creating new jobs will signal a major transformation of the area over the coming years.

“It’s an exciting regeneration project that will give Glenrothes the substantial economic boost it deserves, allowing it to continue to grow in the future.”

Colin Lavety, planning director for lead consultants Barton Willmore in Scotland, said: “The former Tullis Russell Paper Mill site is an important landmark historically for the town of Glenrothes.

“Plans to regenerate the area by delivering much needed housing together with new jobs will be a major transformation of the community over the next few years.

“We are delighted to be playing a part in helping give the area a new lease of life and make it an exciting place to live, work, play and visit.”

The Fife Task Force which was set up in the aftermath of the closure succeeded in securing “a positive outcome” for more than 80 per cent of the employees who lost their jobs.

It is estimated that 571 people have been able to find new employment, including self-employment, or training through the efforts of the initiative set up to minimise the impact of the job losses in 2015.

By the 1830s, there were more than 70 paper-making plants in Scotland and as recently as 1959, there were 17,000 employed in the industry.

Now the Scottish industry is down to just Stoneywood in Aberdeen, which began in the 18th century, and the giant Caledonian mill in Irvine, an inward investment which opened in 1988.

Two informal drop-in events have been organised with lead consultants Barton Willmore and design partner Fairhurst at the Rothes Halls from 1pm to 8pm on Thursday and Friday to explain the plans.

Ms Breen added: “We would encourage members of the local community to come along to the drop-in events to find out more information and talk to members of our project team.”