Council set to approve £30m bid to modernise 'important' junction

East Ayrshire Council will vote on applying for the UK Government's Levelling Up fund on Tuesday.

East Ayrshire Council set to bid for £30m to improve A77 A76 Bellfield Interchange and develop Kilmarnock iStock

Councillors are set to give the green light for a £30m bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund to modernise an “important” traffic junction and develop Kilmarnock’s cultural quarter.

East Ayrshire Council’s cabinet will decide whether to go ahead with the ambitious proposals on Tuesday, June 14.

A report to cabinet states: “Bellfield Interchange is the most important traffic junction in East Ayrshire and for many is a gateway to the rest of Ayrshire and the wider south west of Scotland region.”

It describes the issues at the roundabout, including pedestrian and vehicle safety, congestion and capacity constraints.

The report also warns that a lack of investment will have a knock-on effect on the Ayrshire Growth Deal proposal for the Ayrshire Manufacturing Investment Corridor (AMIC) project.

Ayrshire Roads Alliance has developed options for £10m of improvements to the Bellfield Interchange to cater for increased traffic volumes and to deliver safety improvements.

This includes new traffic lights, the introduction of a third lane by reducing the hard verges and the building of a separate pedestrian/cycle bridge alongside the junction.

An application for “Cultural Kilmarnock” will be for £20m, with further funding sought for a scheme that is expected to cost around £31m in total.

The report outlines the plans, saying: “Cultural Kilmarnock has been identified as an area to the east of the town centre that includes culturally significant listed buildings like the Palace Theatre, Grand Hall and Dick Institute.

“The vision for Cultural Kilmarnock is to create an enduring and vibrant area of cultural significance. The emerging design proposals aim to improve pedestrian connections between the cultural venues and town centre through the linking of green spaces and improvements to the public realm.”

Improvement work would include landscaping, lighting, and signage to enhance the setting, connection and offering of the cultural venues.

The design proposals also include significant improvements to the accessibility and energy efficiency of the Palace Theatre and Grand Hall, ‘improving its performance as a regional theatre and concert hall’.

The proposals have received the backing of Kilmarnock and Loudoun MP Alan Brown.

Overall costs for the Cultural Kilmarnock project are £31m. The Levelling Up Fund bid will be £20m with an additional £5m sought from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NHLF) and £750,000 from Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Around £5m is currently allocated for the Palace Theatre and Grand Hall through the capital programme.

The council also outlined future plans to bid for funding for the Doon Valley masterplan.

The report states: “A masterplan for the Doon Valley will seek to connect local offerings of outdoor sport, leisure and tourism within the area, and complement the proposed new Doon Valley community campus.

“The applications being taken forward via the Levelling Up Fund would represent a significant investment in the area’s cultural and transport infrastructure and if successful, bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to East Ayrshire.”

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