2022, May Update
Updated: May 17
Sorry for the long silence since March, 2021, a sort of summary will follow:-
1. DANGEROUS BUILDING NOTICE.
On 25 July, 2013. South Ayrshire Council (SAC) tell the owners NetworkRail and the Hotel owner to take the following steps: 'To make safe by repair areas of loose slates, timber roof safety guard, defective masonry and timber windows.'
NetworkRail and the Hotel owners were given the following WARNING that a failure to carry out the work is an offence and the local authority may carry out the work and claim from them the expenses.
2. Structural Engineers Reports:
Around the same time as above, a secret Structural Engineers Report was commissioned by unknown parties but is referred to in the second such report which was done by Mott MacDonald after the second Dangerous Building Notice in 2018.
3. Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group:
We held our first public meeting on August, 2018 in Ayr Town Hall with over 300 people there. Around the same time an exclusion zone was set up around the Hotel.
4. Task Force:
On 13 September, 2018 a Task Force was set up by the Scottish Government, South Ayrshire Council, Heritage Environment Scotland and chaired by Transport Scotland. The Station was later closed for some months, following this the Mott MacDonald Structural Engineers Report was commissioned. During this time the Station was closed. A Feasibility Study followed and reported in February, 2021. This, we considered was inadequate and we asked members of the public with expertise to review it. The review we used was conducted by Dave Ramsay, a experienced Civil Engineer who had worked on many larger projects, who gave a number of options and costings which all supported keeping the red sandstone buildings and putting them to good uses, the public were also in agreement with Mr. Ramsay.
5. Strategic Governance Group:
In July, 2021 a Strategic Governance Group consisting of five railway representatives, two from Transport Scotland, three SAC people, Heritage Environment Scotland and three people to represent us, Dave Ramsay Chair, David Coughtrie a Railway Architect and Marcus Binney from SAVEBritain'sHeritage (SAVE) met to discuss:
(a) The Station and the abandoned NetworkRail buildings, instead using two generations of expensive portacabins. NetworkRail appeared agreeable to working with a community group to try to restore to function their buildings.
(b) There were legal problems with the sale of the Hotel. There had been attempts on the part of the owner of the Hotel to carry out two of the four repairs on the Dangerous Buildings Notice. Only the front of the building had been re-pointed by the owner, who had commissioned the same company to re-point the rear elevation but access was not facilitated by NetworkRail. There was discussion about the difficulty due to the electrification setup and the NetworkRail chief Engineer later agreed that a gantry would have made maintenance very much simpler and would avoid undue costs, labour and wasted resources dismantling all of the electrical infrastructure. The rear of the building was never re-pointed but NetworkRail did put up barriers and took some safety steps. The two roof repairs identified were never done. Since then there have been no attempts made to liaise with any community groups by NetworkRail.
6. SAVE Report:
After the above meeting SAVE's Marcus Binney and Ben Oakley got together with Alistair Scott from Smith Scott Mullan Associates (good friends of the Action Group) and Hardies Quantity Surveyors, both firms from Edinburgh, along with David Coughtrie in March, to jointly produce and publish in March, 2022 a document entitled Ayr Station Hotel, Proposals for Alternative Use. The SAVEBritain'sHeritage WEBSITE is HERE. The Full Document is available for download HERE TOO and is also viewable below after item 7. if you prefer:
7. The Latest Word:
The current situation is described in this letter from Esther Clark in the Ayrshire Post 27.4.2022:
It is long past the time for the authorities to ensure that Ayr Station and Ayr Station Hotel provide the facilities that Ayr deserves.
Last July Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group was represented at a meeting of the Strategic Governance Group (ex Scottish Government Task Force) by a team of three, Dave Ramsay (Chair) and David Coughtrie (Railway Architect) joined by Marcus Binney from SAVEBritain’sHeritage (SAVE). Also present were the railway companies, the council, Transport Scotland, Heritage Environment Scotland etc.
At the meeting Network Rail (NR) which owns around 16 % of the complex agreed that they could work with a Community Group, presumably on their share of the property. They had abandoned their share of the property long since which lies empty and neglected while they use expensive portacabins. There has been no movement since last July on NR working with a Community Group according to the current chair of the Action Group.
Meantime SAVE with pro bono help from Edinburgh companies long interested in the Ayr Station Hotel has produced a wonderful Report available on their WEBSITE giving a range of options for the Hotel. This shows the great potential that we have wasted so far.
The reality is that Mr Ung is the Hotel owner. He had a prospective new owner with credible conservation and redevelopment plans. The deal was rejected last year by the council mainly as he was not prepared to pay the scaffolding costs which are a burden on the Hotel Title Deeds.
Anyone who has looked at the evidence like the Dangerous Building Notice of 2013 and more recently in 2018 can see that the necessary four repairs identified which the council should have enforced in 2013 were not done. The owner actually did one repair and commissioned the proper work on another but access was not given by NR for that. The two roof repairs were never done. This new prospective Hotel owner was, I am reliably informed, going to invest many millions using high quality conservation firms to restore function.
Demolition costs many millions and is the last thing Ayr needs. The scaffolding burden at £450k is much cheaper than demolition. One would think that the council, NR and the Scottish Government would organise a solution. They should have done this in 2013 when it would have been much cheaper.
If the Hotel were to be sold and NR started to upgrade its abandoned Station property and worked with a community group, they could provide some amenities to suit the citizens of Ayr, rail passengers and visitors. There are about six Ayr community groups which could negotiate and co-operate with NR, so NR needs to build bridges with one of them.
Meantime the new councillors will perhaps study the facts and act on the true Hotel situation and change the route taken for the last ten years at least.
Esther R. Clark,
Ayr Development Trust, ex Chair Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group.
THE SAVE REPORT: