The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Consistency pays off in Ayrshire’s property market

By: Graeme Stewart (pictured above)

THERE are several reasons why Ayrshire’s housing market has not witnessed the kind of slump seen elsewhere in the UK, but the influence our Irish neighbours have on the level of demand for houses in Ayrshire should not pass without comment.

Whether or not that influence can be attributed largely to the fact that Ayrshire tends to be their introduction to Scotland, both Ayrshire’s commercial and residential property markets have benefited greatly over recent years from a buoyant level of demand from Irish investors.

Particularly noticeable throughout the course of last year was the number of Irish investors buying up residential properties throughout Ayrshire for buy-to-let purposes, partly because that market had become saturated in their own backyard. And despite some evidence of an over-supply for certain types of buy-to-let property within some pockets of Ayrshire, in general the housing market remains buoyant.

Arguably the chief reason why Ayrshire’s housing market has managed to escape any discernible downturn can be explained by the fact that, traditionally, Ayrshire is a more consistent marketplace than either Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The obvious benefit of Ayrshire’s consistency is that whilst its housing market rarely if ever heats up to the point where we see the emergence of such dramatic rises in prices as seen in certain parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh, house prices in Ayr are generally well insulated against the effects of any slump in the overall market.

Of course, Ayrshire is not without a few ‘hotspots’ of its own. The bulk of properties at the very top end of the market tend to be located in and around the South Ayrshire towns of Troon, Prestwick and Ayr, where a few £1million house sales have been seen over recent years. And properties with a sea view tend to sell at a premium. Indeed, the difference in value between a property with an uninterrupted view across the sea to Arran and a similar property situated one street back can exceed 20 per cent.

Aside from coastal properties, demand is also high in Ayrshire for rural properties, particularly with some land attached. That demand has been driven largely by the equestrian market, which developers have responded to with the introduction of various steading conversions to the marketplace over recent years.

Meanwhile, another significant distinctive feature of Ayrshire’s housing market that helps insulate it against the cooling effects of a broader market is the buoyant level of demand for second homes within Ayrshire, particularly from keen golfers and sailors, whether from Ireland, Glasgow, elsewhere in Scotland or south of the border.

Recent years have seen a developing popularity of Ayrshire as an ideal location for a second home – and given its splendid beaches, championship golf courses, harbours, marinas and numerous hospitality, cultural and heritage offerings – as Burns country Ayrshire is home to a major international tourism magnet – it’s not too difficult to understand why.

Of course, as well as a growing number of second homes within Ayrshire’s mainland, much of Arran’s and Millport’s housing markets are essentially driven by the perennially buoyant holiday home market.

Meanwhile, although South Ayrshire is undoubtedly the most affluent housing market of the districts three areas, both North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire have seen huge rises in house prices over recent years, partly because there is a much greater volume of affordable housing within both of these areas than in South Ayrshire. And whilst during the winter months the housing market in North Ayrshire was the most buoyant of the three, prices are being maintained across the board throughout Ayrshire.

That means that, in North and East Ayrshire, one bedroom starter flats currently fall within the £50,000-£70,000 price bracket whilst, in South Ayrshire, the asking price for a one bedroom property would typically be around £10,000-£15,000 more than that. Similarly, whilst a two bedroom modern house in North and East Ayrshire would currently expect to sell for around £100,000-£110,000, a comparable property in South Ayrshire could achieve around £120,000-£130,000.

And whilst a family-sized bungalow in North and East Ayrshire would currently be valued at around £200,000, in South Ayrshire that could be £230,000-£250,000.

Meanwhile, because East Ayrshire Council is the most proactive of the three in terms of releasing land, the bulk of new build activity within Ayrshire has tended to reside in East Ayrshire over recent years. There has been a considerable amount of new build developments in Kilmarnock of late, precipitated partly by the upgrading of the M77, the anticipation of which resulted in real house price rises in such areas as Stewarton and Fenwick.

Significantly improved transportation links, including the rejuvenated Prestwick Airport mean that Ayrshire’s homeowners can look forward to spring with genuine grounds for optimism as the temporary dip in the housing market at the tail end of last year recedes into distant memory.

[Graeme Stewart is a managing partner at J&E Shepherd, Chartered Surveyors.]

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Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle is now on Facebook!

Elite Ayrshire Business Circle managing director Murdoch MacDonald commented: "Part of our mission is to provide our members with a vibrant networking environment. Facebook is one of the top networking websites on the Internet, and it seemed therefore natural that the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle should be part of it."



The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle is a newly formed association of some of the top companies in Ayrshire.

Its purpose is to publicise its members, and to celebrate and promote the rich diversity of industry, commerce and business services available within the county boundaries of Ayrshire.

Members include the Clydesdale Bank, Ayr Racecourse and the Western House Hotel, and member company activities include building and construction, architectural practice, estate agency and land management, chartered accountancy, insurance broking, legal services, golf club management, marketing services and brand creation, web design and public relations consultancy.

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle runs its own online news magazine, which can be found at

As well as regularly updated illustrated articles about member companies, Ayrshire Business News also features rolling news, business and sports headlines, and its own online department store.

For further information about The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and to apply for membership, e-mail or telephone 01292 281498.

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Students at Cumnock Community College try the trades

By: Our Further Education Correspondent

A PROGRAMME offered by Ayr College to help disengaged young people into education and employment appears to be making a significant impact on the number of Jobseeker Allowance claims made by young people in the area.

Latest figures show that the number of claims in East Ayrshire, where Ayr College has been running a programme of courses tailored to young people in need of ‘more choices and chances’, have fallen by 55.7% compared to the same period last year. East Ayrshire was highlighted by the Scottish Government in 2006 as a ‘hotspot’ for disengaged young people, with 16.4% of those between the ages of 16 and 19 not in education, employment or training.

Since then, Ayr College (in partnership with Kilmarnock College) has opened Cumnock Community College, which is offering a number of training opportunities that were previously unavailable to the local community. In particular, the College’s unique ‘Try the Trades’ course, which is now in its second year, had a 100% success rate in its first year of running, with all graduates moving onto further education or employment.

Scott Dickson, 18, from Netherford, graduated Try the Trades last year, and is now working for local joiner James Wilson as a joinery Apprentice. He said: “Try the Trades was a great course – I really enjoyed it and the teachers were all really supportive. It helped me work out that I really enjoy joinery, and now that I’m working on my Apprenticeship I’m loving it. If Cumnock Community College wasn’t there I’m not sure where I would go – it would have been much harder to figure out what to do after school.”

‘Try the Trades’, which is the only course of its kind in the country, offers young people the chance to build their own ‘mini-homes’, therefore sampling the full range of trades before committing to studying one specialist area. By building a complete home, rather than a sample of construction which is then knocked down as in standard trades courses, students’ sense of achievement grows as their building does.

This year, the College has added further courses in Care and Plumbing and Electric, which are proving to be just as successful, and next academic year, students will also be able to study courses in Hospitality and Retail.

Ayr College youth development co-ordinator Lee Chesterman said: “Since launching Cumnock Community College, we have been able to offer young people in the area targeted courses with real job prospects upon graduation. I have no doubt that the drop in benefit claims is directly linked to the greater range of opportunities we are now offering. We have a great relationship with Job Centre Plus and every year we are building better and better relationships directly with employers, to the extent that they are now coming to me looking for employees.

“My only frustration is that, because our sums are capped, we’re only able to offer these opportunities to a limited number of young people. In its first year, the College interviewed 75 young people for 16 available places on the course and this academic year, there were over 150 year applicants for 32 available places. We are expanding the range of courses available, but it would great to be able to expand this even more to truly meet local demand.”

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Sunday, 2 March 2008

Bra entrepreneur Michelle Mone gives
Ayrshire tourism conference some uplift

THE Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Partnership Conference was held in the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock sponsored by Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire and Visit Scotland. The event was organised by Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The keynote speaker was Michelle Mone (pictured above), who enthralled the audience with the fascinating story of the success of her bra business. Her humour and tenacity impressed those present, and her message of ‘never give up’ was well received.

Almost two hundred delegates attended the event, which was opened by Provost Stephanie Young of East Ayrshire Council. Speakers included Bob Leitch, Chair of the Tourism Partnership, who stressed the importance of the sector working together in a time of change, and Professor John Lennon of the Moffat Centre at Caledonian University, who spoke highly of the food offering in Ayrshire and our readiness to capitalise on the natural assets we have. Gwen Raez, Group Product Manager of Visit Scotland highlighted the new marketing campaign being undertaken and the different customer groups at which it is being targeted.

Bob Leitch, chairman of the Partnership said “The feedback from the delegates indicated they found the day to be both interesting and enjoyable. I think we have taken another step in driving the tourism sector forward in Ayrshire. Michelle certainly took the place by storm!”

[Picture shows Michelle surrounded by members the members of Ayrshire and Arran Tourism Partnership. Back row left to right: Howard Wilkinson, Bob Leitch, Michael Wright, Professor John Lennon, Stuart Gibson, Daniel Steel. Front Row: Alastair Dobson, Carolyn Elder, Michelle Mone, South Ayrshire Council Provost Winifred Sloan, Catriona Mackie, Malcolm Simpson. CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW / DOWNLOAD FULL-SIZE VERSION.]

For further information please contact Bob Leitch on 07775 510956.


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