Wednesday, 26 November 2014
The findings from four independent town centre surveys undertaken in Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick and Troon have been presented to local businesses and community representatives in a series of information briefings – with results from a fifth survey, undertaken in Ayr – to be presented on Monday 1 December 2014.
Commissioned by the Council, the independent surveys (funded by the ERDF INTERREG IVA BIDS Project) asked South Ayrshire shoppers, residents and businesses for their views on their town centres – and encouraged feedback on how these might be improved.
In addition, the survey questioned how people used their local town centres for shopping, recreation, leisure and as a visitor destination.
Business and community representatives were invited to each of the information sessions – with further feedback encouraged and recorded on the findings.
Individual, detailed reports for each town are now being prepared and will be available online from South Ayrshire Council's website from Monday 8 December, after the Ayr session has completed and feedback noted.
In brief, the main findings from each town session were:
• Girvan presented a mixed picture for the town centre with positive community support from shoppers and residents expressed towards the town retail services and environment. However, there was a contrary and less positive view among the businesses. Empty shops came up as an issue and like Maybole shopping leakage towards Ayr was seen as an issue. At the feedback session the positives from the findings about Girvan where re-enforced by those present but felt it was felt that there is the need to get the positive message out more widely to other south Ayrshire towns.
• Maybole results indicated that the majority of town centre use is by local residents, with positive levels of local community support for shops and services. Those attending that the findings show traffic concerns in the town centre and that Maybole faces considerable challenges in minimising shopping 'leakage' from people going to Ayr town centre.
• Prestwick shoppers and residents said the town had a good variety of quality retail outlets, food and drink restaurants. Parking, traffic and public seating were flagged as concerns, but, on balance, the survey findings showed that it was seen as a well maintained town centre with a positive feel.
• Troon results showed a positive picture for the town, with a high recognition of its quality shops and local business. Those attending the feedback session were surprised by residents suggesting the town needed more discount stores. Some retailers indicated that some shoppers feel Troon only had shops offering expensive goods – and this might be driving some shoppers away from town.
Commenting on the first four information sessions, Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council said: “The town centre surveys were undertaken by an independent research firm who interviewed shoppers, businesses and residents, so we could get a really good handle on what people thought – and what was actually happening.
“I’m especially pleased the results of the survey have been made available so quickly and it’s clear that people are passionate about their towns.
“What really came across was the consistency in what people said at the time of the survey and the feedback being received at the sessions.
“Both the findings and the feedback point to some interesting differences in how residents use their town centres and how local businesses perceive this. We need to get behind this and find out how – and why – those differences arise and how we can work to close any gaps.
“The information sessions offer an excellent insight into how we can improve the support we offer our town centre businesses and shops in order to help build prosperous, sustainable and vibrant town centres.
“In turn, these will benefit and attract our local residents, more businesses and shops, as well as visitors and, working together, that’s a great ambition for us all to aim at!”
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
New build completions at their highest level in over three years
The number of new homes built in Scotland is at its highest level for over three years, new figures have shown.
Official statistics released today show that across all sectors, 4,583 homes were completed in April to June this year, the highest quarterly figure since 2010, and 29 per cent higher than in the same quarter last year.
The latest completion figures also bring the Scottish Government closer to its target of delivering 20,000 homes for social rent by March 2016, with 80 per cent of homes completed.
Commenting on the latest statistics, Housing Minister Margaret Burgess (pictured above) said: “I welcome the fact that the number of new homes built across all sectors is at its highest level for over three years, and I am particularly pleased that we are nearing our target of delivering 20,000 homes for social rent by March 2016.
“The Scottish Government ‘s investment in affordable housing, together with measures to support the industry and help people into home ownership, have undoubtedly helped to stimulate housing supply.
“Making sure everyone in Scotland has access to good quality housing is a vital part of the Scottish Government’s drive to secure economic growth, promote social justice, strengthen communities and tackle inequality.
“As part of this effort we have delivered over 4,500 new council houses since 2009 and have acted to preserve Scotland’s social housing stock by abolishing the Right to Buy from 1 August 2016, which will protect up to 15,500 social houses from sale and safeguard social housing for future generations.
“In addition, the supply of affordable housing continues to be a high priority for us, and we are now three quarters of the way towards our target of 30,000 affordable homes by March 2016. This commitment is underlined by our £1.7 billion investment in affordable housing over the current parliamentary term, which supports an estimated 8,000 jobs each year.”
Monday, 24 November 2014
People in Girvan and South Carrick have 250,000 reasons to smile today (24 November) after the planned leisure and community facility at Girvan received a quarter of a million pounds from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
[Pictured: Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure (SCCL) chairman Andrew Sinclair are joined by Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Tourism and Leisure, Councillor Bill Grant; local Councillors, Alec Clark and Alec Oattes; SCCL board members; and representatives from the Council to celebrate the funding award.]
The £250,000 funding award means 90 per cent of the £5 million capital costs to build the new facility are now in place – with the outcomes of funding bids to the Hadyard Hill Community Benefit Fund and sportscotland for the remaining £500,000 expected very soon.
The new facility – a partnership project between South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure (SCCL) – will transform the harbourside in Girvan. It’s scheduled to open in 2016.
The facility will comprise a 25 metre pool, a two-storey soft play area, a superb fitness gym with around 40 fitness stations, a flexible multi-purpose studio that can be used for arts, culture and community events. It will also have a café area where people can keep an eye on the sport and leisure activities underway throughout the centre or simply sit back and enjoy the stunning views out to Ailsa Craig.
Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, said: “Everything is really starting to shape up now to get work started on the new facility and I’m delighted with this latest funding award, which takes the community’s fundraising success to the halfway mark.
“The progress with the fundraising is now matching the pace and progress of our own planning, which moves forward every day. We’re well on track to have all the funding in place very soon, we’re about to appoint the contractors to complete the design and build the facility, and we’re just a couple of years from a fantastic new community resource opening its doors to the people and communities of Girvan and South Carrick.
“That’s really exciting and I’m very proud of how much the Council and South Carrick Community Leisure have achieved over the last few months. 2015 is going to be a momentous year for the project and then it will be all eyes to 2016 for getting the facility up and running!”
Andrew Sinclair, Chair of SCCL, added: “I’m chuffed with this funding award, which means Girvan and South Carrick will have a new swimming pool – and so much more – in two years’ time. It really feels like we can start the countdown now as things are moving on at a swift pace.
“We’re waiting to hear about our final two funding applications – fingers crossed there’s more good news to come! – and we’re about to take the design of the building to the next stage, moving us ever closer to work starting on the ground. That’s amazing progress and marks the start of our ambitions becoming a reality for our local communities.
“I remain hopeful that we can achieve our fundraising target before the end of year and then we can hit the ground running.”
The Regeneration Capital Grant Fund has been developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with local authorities to deliver new and improved infrastructure in deprived areas.
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Thursday, 20 November 2014
CKD Galbraith offers for sale traditional stone built Ayrshire house with outstanding elevated coastal views
Leading independent Scottish property consultancy CKD Galbraith is offering for sale Drumshang House in Dunure, which enjoys a beautiful, elevated position overlooking the Firth of Clyde towards Arran and the Antrim coast.
The property dates from the late 18th century and whilst little is known of its history it was undoubtedly a property of note in the locality.
Dunure is a pretty fishing village with a sheltered harbour and a well reputed local inn. The remains of Dunure Castle dominate the headland - originally the main fortress for the powerful Kennedy family and where Mary Queen of Scots once stayed for three days as a guest of Gilbert Kennedy. A winding path leads from Drumshang House down to the shoreline at Old Kate’s Bay - part of the Ayrshire Coastal path which stretches for some 91 miles (not for the faint-hearted).
The property itself is a traditional stone built house with well proportioned rooms and a sensible layout.
The main reception rooms have westerly outlooks and the drawing room and master bedroom both have picture windows which not only afford wonderful views but enhance the natural light.
Four good sized bedrooms and a box room are located on the first floor.
The master bedroom suite has a dressing room and ensuite bathroom and there is also an artist’s studio and two further bathrooms.
In addition to the accommodation Drumshang House has a range of traditional outbuildings in a courtyard formation including a workshop, stables and a large barn supplied with three-phase electricity. Adjoining the outbuildings is a former groom’s cottage which, with a little upgrading, would make an ideal holiday cottage.
Landscaped gardens complement Drumshang House providing a variety of seasonal colour. There is also grazing land of approximately 3 acres which is divided into two paddocks and sheltered by an area of mature woodland.
In 1972 a Conservation Agreement was entered into with the National Trust for Scotland protecting the lands to the west of Drumshang. The Agreement prevents the erection of new buildings, the placing of mobile or static caravans and the felling of any unnecessary trees without the consent of the National Trust. The Agreement runs in perpetuity thus ensuring the views from Drumshang House will remain untouched and undeveloped.
Offers Over £650,000 are being sought.
PDF available on www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk
7 Killoch Place
Ayr KA7 2EA
Contact: R A Cherry BSc MRICS
Tel: 01292 268181
Fax: 01292 292300
CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
• Creation of 2,500 new jobs
• World class all weather leisure destination featuring 450 luxury lodges
• Over 1,000 new homes
• A brand new Loudoun distillery
The Loudoun Castle Project has this week submitted a planning in principle application to East Ayrshire Council for the creation of a two-phased £450 million holiday and leisure destination that will bring up to 2,500 much needed new jobs to the area.
The masterplan will see the 610-acre former family theme park transformed into an all-weather resort featuring 450 luxury lodges, 12 glamping pitches, a lake and leisure development, including indoor sports facilities and an indoor subtropical water park. The site will also feature a brand new Loudoun distillery.
Loudoun Castle itself will be stabilised and leading conservation specialists will be assessing what can be achieved beyond stabilisation. There will also be the creation of new communities comprising of up to 1,025 new homes to enable the restoration of the Castle buildings.
Timescales are subject to planning but if successful, work would begin onsite in 2016 with an anticipated opening during 2018 and phased development beyond.
The clear commitment and pre-planning investment by the project team to secure planning permission for the development of the site (the equivalent of 344 football pitches) has been led by private investment firm EIF.
It is anticipated that around 1,000 jobs will be created in the construction process for a period of at least five years with an additional 1,500 long term jobs created through the leisure and retail offering.
Plans for the residential development will feature a mix of housestyles including starter homes, bungalows and three, four and five-bedroom family homes.
David Mace (pictured above), chairman of The Loudoun Castle Project, said: “A development of this size and scale will provide Scotland and Ayrshire with significant long-term economic benefits both in terms of jobs and tourism. The local community and Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley MSP Willie Coffey are delighted that we have assembled such a strong team of professionals that are committed to turning this vision into reality.
“Scottish tourism has had a great year given the international attention the country has received in 2014 through the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland. We are keen to maximise the legacy created, by adding a world class all weather leisure facility and a visitor attraction that has real stand out. We will clearly attract new visitors from home and abroad and positively impact Ayrshire, making the whole of Scotland proud.”
Research conducted and subsequent reports provided by an independent specialist firm reveals a strong catchment area for the development with more than 4.9 million people within a three hour drive of Loudoun.
Nick Laister, senior director at RPS Planning & Development, which is submitting the planning application on behalf of The Loudoun Castle Project, said: "Since the site was allocated in the East Ayrshire Local Plan in 2010, it has been an aspiration of the Council to secure the future of Loudoun Castle as a major tourism destination. Having been involved with the planning of the site since the middle of the last decade, I am delighted to be submitting a planning application for a development that is going to realise that vision and have such a significant positive economic impact on the area. This proposal will create a unique, high quality resort in this dramatic location with the restoration of the Grade A listed Castle at its heart.
"We have spent the last 18 months consulting with the local community and refining the plans and we look forward to working with East Ayrshire Council and other local stakeholders to make this hugely important development a reality."
The Loudoun Castle Project has a management team with many years of experience in the property, leisure and tourism industries. Key partners include private investment group EIF, global programme management and construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, global planning consultants RPS and specialist castle and heritage consultant Francis Shaw.
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes attends Business in Parliament Conference
By: Murdoch MacDonald
Photographs: Andrew Cowan
Frazer Coogans Commercial Solicitors managing partner Norman Geddes recently attended the annual Business in the Parliament Conference in his capacity as executive chairman of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Norman (pictured above left) was invited to the Conference by Chic Brodie, MSP for South of Scotland (pictured above right).
The event is jointly organised by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament and held at Holyrood in Edinburgh. Now in its ninth year, ‘Business in the Parliament’ addresses the major issues that matter to Scottish businesses and this year’s conference tackled the question of how to shape Scotland’s economic future.
It commenced with a Dinner in the Garden Lobby hosted by the Presiding Officer. This was attended by many MSPs.
The following day the Conference was addressed by Alex Salmond (pictured above) in one of his final speeches before retiring as First Minister.
Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer, the Rt. Hon Tricia Marwick MSP chaired the debate, and said: “As the nation’s Parliament, we are uniquely placed to host this event. It is right that Holyrood should be a forum for businesses and politicians to engage and debate how best to shape Scotland’s economic future.”
The keynote speech of the Conference was delivered by Jayne-Anne Gadhia (pictured above)), CEO of Virgin Money and chair of Scottish Business in the Community.
She said: "Clearly the time has come to move on from the referendum debate. Whatever your views, we now need to look forward to the next chapter of our country’s story, building upon the relative economic stability the UK is fortunate to enjoy.
“Our shared task and responsibility is to make enhanced devolution work, not just politically but in terms of generating economic growth and building prosperous communities.”
Murdo Fraser MSP (pictured above), Convener of the Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, then outlined the purpose of the conference and explained how business and politicians can work together.
He said: “Engagement is very much our purpose today - to bring those involved in the politics of business closer to those embroiled in the business of politics.
“Profit needn’t be a dirty word. It should mean growth, jobs and investment. It should mean consideration of societal needs as well as economic needs. It should mean being attuned to the needs of communities as well as markets.
“It is in all our interests for Scotland to become a better place to live and work.”
There then followed a selection of six Conference Workshops, each chaired by a Minister or MSP and addressed by prominent business speakers.
Norman Geddes commented: “I attended the workshop entitled "Promoting Economic Development in Scotland's Communities" which was chaired by Chic Brodie, MSP for South Scotland. We enjoyed fascinating opening talks from Iain Scott of 1001 Enterprising Scots and Jane Wood of Scottish Business in the Community. There then followed a lively and engaging discussion among those present which was ably chaired by Chic Brodie.”
The Conference concluded with an address by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth.
He said: “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of rebalancing and reindustrialising the Scottish economy. We are working with business to support a culture of entrepreneurial ambition and innovation by attracting inward investment and growing exports.
“This conference brings together a diverse range of individuals and businesses from across all of Scotland with different experiences, talents and ambitions. Everyone attending shares a common goal, we all want a Scotland that grows and prospers. It is important that we work together, rise to the challenges and maximise the opportunities for business here in Scotland.”
In conclusion, Elite Ayrshire Business Circle executive chairman Norman Geddes commented: “This is the third time I have attended the Business in Parliament Conference and I commend it to all who have an interest in promoting business in Scotland.
“The speeches and discussions are of the highest calibre, and other recent speakers have included Sir Tom Hunter and Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS.
“The issues raised by delegates are recorded and considered by the appropriate Parliamentary committees, giving an opportunity to all to influence the future direction of business in Scotland.”
By: Iain Ferguson
AYR Racecourse staged its final meeting of 2014 – Heroes Raceday – last Wednesday with the outstanding performance coming from the Martin Todhunter trained Presenting Junior.
A winner at the previous meeting on 1 November and runner-up on 27 October, the horse kept up his great run of form under Wilson Renwick to land the Poppyscotland Handicap Chase.
[Pictured: Presenting Junior (left) jumps the last on his
way to victory on Heroes Raceday at Ayr Racecourse.]
Sent off at 11/2 Presenting Junior made a mistake three out but rallied to challenge leader King Of The Wolds near the finishing post and went on to win by three quarters of a length.
Todhunter also saddled De Chissler (9/4 joint fav) to win the Download The BetVictor Instabet App Handicap Hurdle, ridden by Graham Watters.
Lochnell, owned by Ayr Racecourse chairman Alan Macdonald and his son Barry and trained by Jim Goldie, won the maiden hurdle by eight lengths for young Ryan Day at 4/1.
Redpender, another horse who won at Ayr on 1 November, followed up for trainer Jimmy Moffatt and jockey Tony Kelly. This grey gelding, sent off at 5/2, took the lead before the last in the two and a half mile handicap chase and powered clear by seven lengths.
Lucinda Russell scored with Ballyben (7/4) in the Play Casino At BetVictor.com Novices Limited Handicap Chase while the national hunt flat race went to trainer Nicky Richards, jockey Brian Harding and Imada (13/8 fav) .
There was also a win for Harriet Graham with Maggie Blue (9/4) won the Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Ayr’s next meeting is the New Year’s Raceday on Friday 2 January. For more information on racing at Ayr go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk or call 01292 264179.
For further information please contact Iain Ferguson on 01292 294972 or 07795 565691.
Ayr Racecourse and the associated Western House Hotel are Founder Members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
South Ayrshire Council has now filled all posts within its revised corporate management team structure following the appointment of two new Heads of Service – one for Housing and Facilities and one for Policy and Performance.
David Burns, formerly Strategic Service Planning Manager for the Council’s Housing and Community Care service, takes up the post of Head of Housing and Facilities with immediate effect.
[Pictured: David Burns (left) and Mark Baker.]
And Mark Baker, currently Service Manager for Performance and Improvement at Aberdeenshire Council, has been appointed Head of Policy and Performance and will take up his post next month.
Both new Heads of Service have enjoyed extensive and successful careers in both the private and public sectors.
David, who lives in North Ayrshire with his wife and two children, started his career as a Youth Trainee with the housing service at Renfrewshire Council. Since then, he’s worked his way through the housing ranks – in both local authority and housing association sectors.
Notable achievements in his career include the reintroduction of Council new-build housing in South Ayrshire, regeneration of the Haldane estate in Balloch and – more recently – leading on social work service reviews within community care.
David, who referees junior football in his spare time, is a corporate member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and gained his Master’s Degree in 2003 while studying on a part-time basis.
He said: “I’m delighted to lead the housing and facilities team at such a transformational time for the Council. We’re making big changes to our facilities management service and reviewing our Housing Revenue Account budgeting – including rent levels – to ensure we deliver the services our residents require and deserve. These are big changes but ones I know we can deliver while making a difference for our residents.”
Mark – originally from Ayrshire – lives with his partner and has a 14-year-old son. He studied and worked in Aberdeen in the field of architecture, designing hotels and restaurants before specialising in large scale office refurbishments in the oil and gas sector. He joined Aberdeenshire Council as a consultant designer in 2003.
From 2009, he led the mobile and flexible working programme called ‘Worksmart’ at a local and national level, creating the ‘new ways of working’ strand with the Improvement Service and colleagues across many public sector organisations in the UK and beyond.
As a result of this, he became Service Manager (Performance & Improvement) and, from 2010, has built and managed an award-winning team who support and deliver corporate frameworks for the performance and improvement cycle, mobile and flexible working, equalities, and scrutiny and audit support.
Mark said: “This is a challenging, but also an exciting time for South Ayrshire Council and I very much look forward to getting to work with my team to help steer the Council onwards on its improvement journey. I feel very fortunate to have been chosen to support the Council, elected members, communities and partners through this next phase and can’t wait to get started.”
South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive, Eileen Howat, added: “David and Mark’s appointments conclude a process that started back in May when we revised our corporate management team structure and I’m very pleased they will both be in post before the end of the year.
“Their drive, leadership and direction – and that of the rest of the corporate management team – are of vital importance as we move forward and work to ensure we continue to deliver best value for our people and communities. My congratulations to them both and I look forward to working with them in their new roles.”
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.
Friday, 14 November 2014
RICS UK Residential Market Survey, October 2014
Scottish house price growth remained steady as demand soared during October, according to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.
Across Scotland new buyer demand witnessed a steep growth, as 81% more surveyors reported an increase in new buyer enquiries as activity intensified following Septembers referendum result. Meanwhile across the rest of the UK demand dipped to a net balance of -18%.
In addition to stronger buyer interest, sales expectations remain positive with a net balance of 55% of chartered surveyors predicting a rise in sales over the next three months. Significantly, Scotland and Northern Ireland had the most optimistic view on house prices in the run up to Christmas (net balances of 36% and 37% respectively).
Meanwhile, stock coming onto the market also saw the largest increase this year, with 39% of respondents reporting an increase in new instructions during October. Despite an increase in supply, demand for property continues to outpace and this was further witnessed in the lettings market where tenant demand continues to grow strongly across the country. Over the last quarter, this has particularly been the case in Scotland and rent expectations remain generally firm, with respondents’ anticipating an increase of around 2.5% over the next twelve months across the UK.
Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, said: “Despite the pick-up in the sales market, demand to rent property is growing and coupled with a drop in supply of new stock to let this is helping to underpin the rental outlook for landlords pretty much across Scotland.
“Post referendum confidence in the market has seen a surge in activity, both in demand for property and an increase in homes coming onto the market. Last month’s announcement on land and buildings transaction tax may also have had an impact on the higher end of the market.”
Anthony Perriam MRICS, Rettie Borders, Scottish Borders, commented: “The return of confidence following the outcome of the independence referendum, and the recently announced changes to the stamp duty regime from April 2015, have brought many more buyers into the autumn marketplace than expected.”