The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Friday, 10 January 2014

Sun shines on Belleisle thanks to £1.9 million award

The new year has started in spectacular style for Belleisle Park in Ayr, with the announcement that the area has secured funding of over £1.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - one of only two such awards in Scotland.

The award is the result of a bid prepared and submitted by South Ayrshire Council in partnership with Belleisle Conservatory Limited, supported by the Friends of Belleisle and local community groups. It will now be used to deliver a five-year masterplan for the rejuvenation and restoration of Belleisle Park.

[Pictured: Councillor John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, Norman McLean chair of Friends of Belleisle and Professor Gordon Wilson from Belleisle Conservatory Limited are pictured with the masterplan for the park.]

In total, Belleisle was awarded £1,938,400 through the Parks for People programme and is among 15 other historic parks and cemeteries across the UK receiving grants.

The masterplan for Belleisle includes: 

The redevelopment of Belleisle stable block, providing a cafe, toilets and further multi-functional space

The refurbishment of Belleisle conservatory

The development of landscaping and further woodland management 

The relocation and upgrading of the play area

Upgrading of the footpath network, improved accessibility, improved park furniture, litter bins & interpretative signage

The development of events and volunteer participation. 

Welcoming the great news, Councillor John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability said: “This really is a sensational start to the new year and will help accelerate our vision to transform the park, developing the landscape, refreshing the buildings and transforming this jewel in our crown.

“In developing the bid proposal, we enjoyed superb support from Belleisle Conservatory Limited, the Friends of Belleisle and local community groups and this success is a real credit to their commitment and their passion for the park.”

Professor Gordon Wilson from Belleisle Conservatory Limited added: “The funding news is a massive boost for everyone connected with Belleisle and allows us to take the next step in delivering the masterplan for the area.

“The conservatory dates from 1879 and sits at the heart of the gardens and woodlands. Our aim is to see it returned to a display centre, a wonderful focal point at the heart of the park, once again helping to contribute to the horticultural displays that made Ayr famous. 

Norman McLean chair of Friends of Belleisle said: “Despite the wintry weather and storms, the sun is shining on Belleisle today and we’re thrilled the HLF has made this award.

“To be one of the two Scottish recipients of this award makes it an extra special feeling and we can look ahead to reinstate the area as a premier park experience - a park for people to come and enjoy its open spaces and all it has to offer.”

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in Scotland, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to start the new year with good news for Belleisle Park. This much-loved park is set to return to the popularity of its heyday with help from our Parks for People programme. 

“This grants programme has been hugely successful in encouraging many thousands back through park gates by combining people’s pride in the history of their green spaces with the need to provide up-to-date facilities and access. 

“The transformation of Belleisle Park will make a huge difference to the quality of life for the residents of Ayr as well as bringing a new optimism to the town for the year ahead.”

Councillor McDowall concluded: “Through 2014 and beyond, I look forward to working even more closely with the groups to promote and improve Belleisle’s unique qualities, building on these to create a vibrant, long-lasting legacy for future generations of South Ayrshire residents – and for visitors from outwith the area.”

[A set of downloadable photographs taken at this event is available on Flickr - CLICK HERE. Click on any thumbnail image to access larger versions.]

Since 1994, HLF has supported just over 35,000 projects allocating more than £5.5billion across the UK, using money raised through the National Lottery.

HLF aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy – from museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions.

South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Desirable Ayrshire mansion available to rent from CKD Galbraith

One of Ayrshire’s most desirable properties is currently available to rent for the first time through CKD Galbraith’s Ayr Office. 

Kennox House, near Stewarton, is a seven bedroom grade A-listed mansion set in approximately 25 acres of grounds.

This cream painted sandstone home in a T-plan design is predominantly mid-18th century in origin but with later alterations and extensions. Enjoying an excellent location by the Glazert Water, it is handy for the city with travel time to the centre of Glasgow just over 30 minutes by car.

The property - available to let part furnished - consists of an entrance hallway, drawing room, sitting room, inner hallway, cloakroom, dining room, family room, kitchen, laundry room, WC, basement and seven bedrooms, including a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and dressing room, two further bathrooms and a shower room.

The history of Kennox House is not fully known. The “2nd Statistical Account of Scotland” of 1845 lists it as ‘a modern building worthy of notice’, as well as recording it being owned by a Col. S MacAlister. MacAlister was of the Somerville family who owned the estate from around the beginning over the 18th century, although it seems to have been known as ‘Crivoch’ or ‘Crevock’ at the time with records suggesting that the name of Kennox first appeared around 1832.

Kennox House predominately dates from the mid-18th century. A mansion was built on the site in circa 1720 but it is not known if any of this early construction remains within the property as it stands today. Further extension seems to have taken place in 1831 - as that date appears on a stone on the east side of the house - but the extent of the work during this period is not known. A bathroom extension, again on the east side of the house, was added in 1911 by notable Ayr architect James A Morris. 

Joyce Smart of CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office said: “Being able to live in a beautiful grade A-listed mansion is most people’s dream. With Kennox House coming to the market for rent for the first time, it presents a fantastic opportunity for those seeking to tap into a bit of history whilst living in a truly stunning property.”    

The grounds of Kennox include manicured gardens, woodland, paddock and a tennis court. The ornamental gates and gatepiers are an excellent example of their type and are also included within Historic Scotland’s category A-listing of the property.

Kennox House is available to let through CKD Galbraith’s Ayr office for £2,500 pcm. 

About CKD Galbraith 

CKD Galbraith is an independent property consultancy employing 250 staff in 14 offices across Scotland including Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Cupar, Inverness, Aberfeldy, Castle Douglas, Ayr, Elgin, Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles, Alyth and Aberdeen, offering local knowledge, national expertise and enjoying an international presence. 

The firm is Scotland’s largest and leading rural consultancy managing in excess of 1 million acres of land across the country.

CKD Galbraith provides the full range of property consulting services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland. The partnership also enjoys a successful relationship with its associate firm in London, CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

To find out more about CKD Galbraith visit

CKD Galbraith's Ayr Office is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Strong house building to drive construction recovery in Scotland

RICS Construction Market Survey

House building across Scotland continued its revival towards the end of 2013 with the private sector leading the way. However, the current increase in activity is being met with some shortages of skills, according to the latest RICS Construction Market Survey.

Despite the fact that the recovery in the construction industry is only just getting underway, skills shortages are already being identified as a constraint on activity. 26 percent of respondents claim that a lack of quantity surveyors is restricting building. Skills shortages are increasing across all of the trades in Scotland, with the highest percentage of respondents for five years now reporting problems sourcing relevant skills.

Significantly, infrastructure construction, a core priority of the Scottish government’s economic plan, is showing signs of picking up speed with a net balance of 17 percent of respondents reporting a growth in activity. 

The improving picture in the construction sector is also visible across the UK with workloads rising for the second consecutive quarter in all parts of the country. Looking ahead, expectations for future construction activity were upbeat with 56 percent more chartered surveyors expecting workloads in Scotland to increase rather than decrease during 2014. Furthermore, predictions for employment levels and company profits were also very positive, suggesting that the construction sector may at long last be beginning to pick up.  

Sarah Speirs, Director RICS Scotland, commented: “With the economic outlook looking more positive in recent months, it would seem that the construction industry has followed suit and activity is up right across Scotland. More homes are being built, the investment in infrastructure is being recognised and workloads for the next year look positive. There is a long was to go for the industry to regain traction and concerns regarding skills need to be addressed, however, these figures show welcome progression.”

Neil Donald, Neil Donald Limited, Aberdeen, commented: “There is a concerning lack of relationship between the construction industry and school and I cannot see the quality of resource, or quantity, capable of meeting construction industry needs being met. This problem has not been grasped to its full extent yet and more investment in construction skills is required.”

Monday, 6 January 2014

Independence can transform Scotland

Opponents must answer ‘inconvenient truths’

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today marked the start of 2014, the year in which Scotland will decide its future in a referendum on independence, with a keynote speech at St Andrews University.

[Pictured: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon 
signing the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.]

Ms Sturgeon said the campaign had now moved into the ‘two futures’ phase where people across Scotland should be able to consider the vision set out in Scotland’s Future and contrast it with the position Scotland would be in without independence.

Setting out the transformational opportunities of independence for Scotland’s economy, for women and children and for our relationship with Europe, Ms Sturgeon said the independence issue should transcend party politics as Scotland makes a decision about how it is to be governed. 

In her speech, the DFM also set out a series of detailed questions to be answered by opponents of independence who need, she said, to publish their alternative to Scotland’s Future. 

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am challenging our opponents today to publish their equivalent of Scotland’s Future.

“Doing so will involve them admitting to some grim possibilities - which no doubt explains their reluctance. It is estimated, for example, that up to 100,000 more children in Scotland will be living in poverty by 2020 if we follow the policy path Westminster is on. 

“What will the implications be for Scottish families of the £25 billion of additional cuts in public spending being announced by the chancellor today?

“The inconvenient truths facing our opponents simply can't be allowed to stand in the way of the people of Scotland making a genuinely informed choice.

“Scotland’s Future your guide to an independent Scotland is now out there for people to read, scrutinise and judge. We need the same clarity and depth of detail from the other side, so that this debate can be taken out of the hands of politicians and put firmly where it belongs - into the hands of the Scottish people.”

Urging voters to consider the long term economic future for families and future generations the DFM also highlighted the benefits independence could deliver for women and the economy, saying that it would create a Scotland ‘where we don’t wait for things to happen to us but one where we decide to shape our own future’.

The DFM also highlighted the need for a different approach to the Westminster parties on issues of immigration and Europe saying with independence: “We can ensure we have an approach to Europe and to immigration that meets our needs.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “The choice we face in the referendum is about the future. We need to decide what outcome will best equip us to face that future and the challenges it presents. 

“Like other countries, we face some big challenges - constrained public finances, a legacy of debt and a shrinking working population relative to our pensioner population. But these are not arguments against independence. They are products of the status quo. They are reasons, not to keep things as they are, but to do things differently. 

“Firstly, we could choose to transform childcare, building on the improvements we have been able to deliver with the limited powers of devolution. In Scotland’s Future, the Scottish Government set out a long-term plan for the provision of free universal childcare for all children aged 1-5.

“At present childcare costs in Scotland are among the highest in Europe. They are a real barrier to women in particular pursuing fulfilling careers. And yet we know that if we can raise female participation in the labour market to levels achieved in, for example, Sweden then - as well as the boost to general economic performance - we would also generate an extra £700 million per year in tax revenue.

“Money that, in an independent Scotland, would stay in Scotland to help fund the policy for the long term. Within a fixed budget that doesn't automatically benefit from increased tax revenues, no devolved Scottish Government could make such a commitment without making big cuts elsewhere.

“So this is a social and economic transformation that is only possible in an independent Scotland. Giving women greater job opportunities is a key aim. But fairness, equality and the achievement of individual ambition are as important as participation. 

“In Scotland at present women don't have the same career opportunities as men. That's not just bad for women - it's bad for the economy. We need to change that.

“One of the steps we could take is to ensure public and private institutions improve the gender balance of their governance. If the current Scottish Government was the first government of an independent Scotland we would, for example, introduce a target for women’s representation on company boards. The power to do this is not currently available to the Scottish Parliament.

“So like childcare this is a benefit that will only come with independence.

“Independence isn’t just about using policy levers in a slightly different way from Westminster. It is about a fundamentally different view of the sort of country Scotland should be.

“A Scotland where we don’t wait for things to happen to us but one where we decide to shape our own future. That is the kind of transformation we should be seeking in an independent Scotland.”