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Government Minister visits Ayr for an update on 'pivotal' strategy

Ministerial visit CB 400 x 400

Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, was in Ayr yesterday (Monday 13 Nov) to find out about South Ayrshire Council's ambitious plans for Ayr Town Centre.

The minister was given a preview of the Ayr Town Centre Strategy which will go before Councillors later this month.

The strategy outlines a number of projects which aim to completely transform the town for generations to come.

The minister heard that plans are being finalised to turn the former Hourstons building into a 'Living Well Village' with healthcare provision and office space for staff. He also learned about the wider vision for the Arran Mall, which could include residential care, care experienced accommodation, a day centre and some affordable housing.

In a presentation, the Council also highlighted plans for Ayr Esplanade which will give it a new lease of life. Councillors will consider the improvements later this month which include new lighting, overhauling existing attractions and enhancing entertainment areas.

Mr FitzPatrick then headed to Mainholm, the site of one of the biggest affordable housing projects currently underway in Scotland. The £36.6 million investment led by the Council will see a total of 160 homes built on the site.

The development is providing numerous local employment and educational opportunities with schools visiting the site as part of their SCQF Level 5 Design Engineering Construct course.

It was then on to the Riverside Sports Arena which opened earlier this year. The facility which features an eight lane, 400m running track; a six lane, 60m indoor running track; a field events area; and a 3G all-weather pitch, is a firm favourite with sports clubs. The arena has also impressed Sports Scotland, who are delighted that South Ayrshire Council continues to invest in sporting infrastructure despite the harsh economic climate.

The visit ended at the impressive Prestwick North Education Campus, where the minister learned of the Council's commitment to invest more than £110m in schools and education facilities over the next 10 years. This will include the completion of the new Maybole Community Campus in the summer of 2024, which will benefit from the Scottish Government's Learning Estate Investment Programme.

Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, Joe FitzPatrick, said: "I was pleased to get the opportunity to visit South Ayrshire Council and hear more about the ambitious proposals contained in the Ayr Town Centre Strategy, including repurposing the former Hourston's building to create a multi-purpose living well village. It was clear to me the plans have the potential to transform the town for the benefit of everyone who lives in it.

"A variety of exciting projects in the area are either underway already or recently completed. When it's finished, the Mainholm housing development will provide much-needed affordable housing close to the town centre, and I saw how local people are already benefiting from facilities at the Riverside Sports Arena and Prestwick North Education Campus.

"The Scottish Government continues to provide significant financial support for these and other projects across South Ayrshire, including through the Place Based Investment Programme, Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, and Investing in Communities Fund."

Councillor Martin Dowey, Leader of South Ayrshire Council said: "I would like to thank Joe FitzPatrick for taking the time to come and see us. It was good get his views on our vision for South Ayrshire. Momentum has been building for months and we're now at a stage where subject to approval, we can push on with a number of big projects.

"Our Ayr Town Centre Strategy is pivotal and brings together key initiatives like the reuse of the Hourstons building and the transformation of the esplanade under one banner. We're still looking for Levelling Up funding, but we have not been resting on our laurels and money is being allocated to make sure progress is made.

"It has taken time to get to this point, but it's now full steam ahead and we will be announcing more projects over the coming months."