Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Transformational plans unveiled to breathe new life into Ayr Riverside
Ambitious plans to transform a neglected part of Ayr’s historic town centre into a thriving new public realm have been unveiled. The new masterplan for the Ayr Riverside Block has been submitted to South Ayrshire Council by Ayr Renaissance.
Known as the Riverside Block between the medieval “Auld Brig” and the Victorian “New Bridge", the plans include sweeping away the massive retail stores which have blocked access to the river since the 1960s and the creation of landscaped public realm alongside a festival building and an elegant new waterfront for the town.
The masterplan presents a vision for a mixed development which could include quality office accommodation and housing as well as space for niche retail units, cafes, restaurants and spaces for public engagement. The plan sets out a commitment to top quality design including the use of materials that relate to existing historic buildings and to an overall scale that respects the surrounding conservation area.
Ayr Renaissance chairman James Knox said: “The balance of the development depends on the added value created by the quality of the architecture, the welcome to the public afforded by the originality and openness of the plan and the content of the public realm. Getting these right is the key to unlocking long-term regeneration of the town centre for generations to come.”
The masterplan has been prepared by architect Niall McLaughlin, who has worked extensively for Oxford University and the London Olympic Authority, and Charles Jencks, world-renowned land artist and co-founder of Maggie’s Centres which builds cancer centres designed the world’s top architects.
James Knox said: “This brilliant masterplan offers a once in a generation opportunity to bring back bustle, business and public enjoyment to the heart of Ayr. Decades of blight could be swept away, views of the Auld Brig and the Town Hall revealed, with the riverside site in line to become a magnet for the local community and visitors alike.”
Traditional vennels, in keeping with the existing town centre, will open up informal pedestrian connections throughout the Riverside Block site from all directions; while in the longer term, the River Ayr Walk, which currently ends at the Auld Brig, could continue across the site, running along the river to the sea. The north shore is also part of the plan which will be re-landscaped as part of the framing of a new River Square including the stretch of river flanked by both bridges - with the potential to become the focal point for festivities and events.
The masterplan serves as the basis for the planning application submitted by Ayr Renaissance to enable demolition of most of the riverside block which is in a conservation area. The evolution of the masterplan included two public consultation days and two peer review workshops run by Architecture and Design Scotland. Tenders for the demolition have been issued to ensure a start can be made on site provided the necessary consents are granted.
The application is due to be considered by South Ayrshire Council in early 2017. If planning approval is granted, existing buildings would be demolished, with an archaeological dig to follow across the whole site to uncover the secrets of medieval Ayr.
South Ayrshire Council is a Founder Member of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.