The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Massive regeneration plans for five towns of Irvine Bay unveiled

By: Kirsty Innes

REGENERATION plans have been formulated for the five towns of Irvine Bay – outlining the vision for developing the area in the coming years.

The plans follow on from a massive consultation exercise in which hundreds of local people have taken an active role to date – with further discussion planned.

[Pictured: Patrick Wiggins, chief executive of Irvine Bay Regeneration Company.]

Set in an area of outstanding beauty on the Clyde Coast, the five North Ayrshire towns strung along the 14-mile sweep of coast have been hard hit by the demise of traditional industries like fishing and mining during the second half of the 20th century, followed by the collapse of Scotland’s electronic manufacturing sector over the last few years.

In a bid to turn the area around, the Scottish Government set up Irvine Bay Regeneration Company in 2007 to create a new tide of business activity in the area surrounding the towns of Ardrossan, Stevenston, Saltcoats, Kilwinning and Irvine.

Around £100 million of public sector funding will be spent by 2020 on infrastructure and other improvements designed to attract new businesses – and new residents – into the bay area, as well as supporting the existing business base and local communities. It is anticipated that the funding will leverage hundreds of millions of pounds of private sector investment.

The regeneration plans are designed to play to the strengths of each of the five towns and their communities: harbour and marina improvements at Irvine and Ardrossan; Saltcoats and Stevenston to be reconnected to their waterfronts; the ancient abbey town of Kilwinning to become more accessible, re-establishing itself as ‘the crossroads of Ayrshire’.

“We want to create places where people will thrive, communities will grow and businesses will flourish,” says Patrick Wiggins, chief executive of Irvine Bay Regeneration Company.

“Our job is to support existing enterprises and to attract new ones, offering local people a range of job opportunities. This is an area that likes to roll its sleeves up and get down to business. The local workforce is skilled, flexible and cost-effective, while the outstanding leisure opportunities in North Ayrshire and the neighbouring islands of Cumbrae and Arran are very attractive to 21st century businesses.”

The plans are as follows:

Kilwinning – to create an attractive location to live, learn, work, visit and invest in. Key proposals include the refurbishing of the Main Street to create a town centre hub with increased shopping, office space, improved public realm works and the creation of commercial spaces. Making more of the town’s excellent transport links is also on the agenda, as is improving open spaces through landscaping.

Irvine – to create a self-confident town where people aspire to live and work and which they are proud to call home. Again, investment in the heart of the town is a key aim to develop a more vibrant and dynamic place. It is proposed to redevelop the Bridgegate to provide a strong link between the Rivergate Centre and the traditional high street. There are also plans to refurbish key buildings in the highly visible civic quarter, including the Townhouse, and there are plans for sensitive refurbishment of historic buildings in the old town centre which has many listed buildings. An announcement was made earlier this year that Urban Splash were to lead the development of Irvine Harbourside, and there are also plans for a new golf course and hotel at Marine Drive, office pavilions at Annickbank and an eco-homes development at Tarryholme.

Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston share a vision – to be revitalised places where people choose to live, work and play.

Ardrossan will become a place recognised in its own right, and not just as the gateway to the island of Arran. A vibrant waterfront and successful marina development will play a vital role in this, and the three key areas have been identified as creating a new heart of the town through a new town square with more diverse shops and better public realm works, a greater sense of arrival through improvements to the main route into town along Glasgow Street, a rejuvenated promenade and beach front with interesting buildings and better parking. The open space around Auchenharvie leisure centre provides an opportunity for developing sport and leisure facilities.

Saltcoats has great potential as the retail centre for the three towns, and there are plans to improve Dockhead Street and Hamilton Street to create more exciting shopping by day and night. There are also plans to improve the waterfront area through landscaping and public art, with the possibility of a leisure park with water-based activities. A Festival Square could be created at Saltcoats headland to host organised events, and there are hopes for an arts centre at the waterfront. There are also plans for improved commercial premises and better connections.

There is the potential to develop Stevenston as an attractive front door for the industry and an aspirational residential environment for its workers. The environment of the town will be transformed, turning its focus towards the sea and using the opportunities for residential development to create attractive neighbourhoods. The vision for Stevenston is therefore of an attractive residential coastal town set within a forest.

Across the bay, the vision is for the five revitalised town centres each with their own distinct and successful purpose to sit within a coastal park that spans the whole bay. The places will be well connected, creating an exciting environment that stimulates business growth and employment opportunities for the wider area.

Patrick Wiggins added: “The plans set out our vision and aspirations for each of the towns, and focuses our thoughts and efforts. We are grateful to the many hundreds of people who helped us with the consultation process through attending our ideas workshops, our public meetings, our exhibitions, our drop-in centres and so on.

“We will work closely with our partners – particularly our funding partners North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government – to deliver against the plans.”

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