Irvine Harbourside’s sprawling new regeneration is well on the way to finally being delivered after being given the green light.
The Great Harbour programme is a key project for the Ayrshire Growth Deal in terms of its Tourism Programme, with planned investment of £14m, subject to business case approval.
On Tuesday the Great Harbour Masterplan was referred by North Ayrshire Council Cabinet as a material planning consideration related to the adopted Local Development Plan.
The venture aims to stimulate further commercial and other investment in the area through Ayrshire Growth Deal investment in facilities within the harbourside area.
The Great Harbour Masterplan is a key component of the £251m Ayrshire Growth Deal and is one of the most ambitious and transformational regeneration tourism proposals for the region.
A draft Masterplan was prepared for public consultation in February as a framework for future development at Irvine Harbourside. Extensive public consultation took place during March and April, with overall wide support for the proposals.
A final draft has been produced following consultation, with some changes to the proposals to reflect consultation feedback.
The Masterplan secured investment of £14m, comprising £9m from the Scottish Government and £5m from North Ayrshire Council.
It will guide delivery and future investment in the following key areas:
- Developing the waterfront as a place-based destination – The Maritime Mile – creating an appealing waterfront destination incorporating three new activity hubs (Coastal Hub, Marine & Creative Arts Hub and Maritime Heritage Hub), addressing heritage, watersports and play and strengthening the link between the town and coast.
- Supporting the regeneration of vacant and derelict land and enabling partners, such as the Scottish Maritime Museum to create facilities that will provide further investment in the area and strengthening local neighbourhoods.
- Promoting new leisure related visitor facilities and developments encouraging new investment in hospitality, leisure and event activity including enhancing the qualities of the existing Conservation Area and investment in existing buildings and site assets such as the Harbour Masters Office, the Beach Pavilion at Harbour Point and the option for leisure development at the former site of the Magnum at Portland Roundabout/Beach Drive
- Supporting the capacity of the area to host major and community-led events at the Beach Park.
- The Coastal Hub aims to create a new major play facility for varied ages and abilities and to define and provide infrastructure for an events space, all within the existing Beach Park.
This first phase will also include improvements to the historic Pilot House, including a new landscaped park setting that reflects the coastal location and celebrates the heritage of Irvine Harbour. Work is anticipated to start on site in late 2024.
Following the first phase, work will begin on a Marine/Arts/Events/Food Hub which will feature a new waterfront space helping to support events, improved access to marine facilities, and the redevelopment of the Harbour Master’s Office.
The third phase involves creating a Maritime Heritage Hub. This will see the Council work in partnership with the Scottish Maritime Museum and Crown Estate Scotland to enhance and expand existing facilities around the Harbourside, including the Puffers Café area. It is hoped that this will increase visitors and encourage increased participation in maritime heritage in the area.
Longer term proposals include the re-use and enhancement of the Pilot House and the re-development of the Beach Pavilion as a commercial café/restaurant and community hub. The play facility is currently being designed and it is estimated that construction will begin on site in autumn 2024 with the aim of being ready for summer 2025.
Plans to use a large parking area opposite the former Big Idea project for a development were scrapped after the public opposed them.
Council Leader Marie Burns said: “When you consider the hoops we have to jump through in terms of both governments, it is really good to get to this point. Consultations have given priority to the Coastal Hub and the removal of development where the car parking is as a result of response from the views given by the public.”
Cabinet Member for Finance Christina Larsen said: “How exciting it is to get to this point, this will be a great plane for the whole of North Ayrshire when the plans come to fruition.”
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