Updated: Oct 31, 2019
For nearly two years I have been working on, first the Ayr Station Hotel, and recently while waiting for its Structural Engineers' Report to show its face, on Ayr Town Centre. This is sort of at “arms length” from the work of the Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group. We now have a rough plan which involves cooperation across the board from all levels of government, local, Scottish and UK plus community groups and individuals plus we want public and private finance. We need a detailed plan to move forward.
I have brought folk together locally to try to supplement what we thought the council was planning. The main aim is to take derelict or unused buildings which are part of what was, and largely remains, a beautiful small town and conserve them, but develop them into facilities that the town needs. Another aim is to consolidate the town businesses into the centre. We also need the money to do all this. There is a glimmer of hope.
The Heart of Ayr, rough plans are :-
1. Retain and conserve the Ayr Station Hotel as an integrated entity with the railway system.
This would involve direct Scottish Government money and Scottish Historic Buildings Trust expertise. It has a proven record and would buy the Hotel, consult widely and ensure that financially viable uses were found. It would involve cooperation across agencies. There is the
easier alternative for us of a new owner who has both the capital and the will to put in a large investment to conserve and develop the buildings.
2. The Fish Cross/ Laigh Tollgate area would be developed for housing with parking accessed on foot through an alley behind to the Afflecks' area. Vehicle access would have to be got from the Sandgate.
This would involve Community Empowerment money from Scottish Government new legislation and all that that implies, plus private money. It would involve at least initially expertise from the Ayrshire Architectural Heritage Trust. It would involve the council in more than just traffic planning which I hope would be part of a two way system plan.
3. Odeon or Orient for a Museum. The council is talking of Museum development. A community group want to develop the old Grammar School using Asset Transfer legislation as a Museum. I personally believe that a mining / industrial / people's history facility could be a great asset. I have asked Ayrshire Architectural Heritage Trust and others to look at these two buildings' (the Orient and the Odeon) footprints to see if either would make a museum. The money for this would be from public and private sources. ( Odeon would be better staying as a cinema in my opinion, but this may not be the case.)
4.Miller Road would gradually become residential again, perhaps a mix of amenity and private with inducements for businesses to move back to the centre. This expenditure would be from mixed sources.
Finance following depends on general agreement and joint working together. There is a small sign of hope. The various community agencies are coming together a bit and the powers that be are now half listening. We have worked out avenues to some money and we have a couple of important figures out to help us engender private investment which they are very good at.
It could be that we have a Phase 2 and we end up with what the Railway Heritage Magazine suggested when we started our Save Ayr Station Hotel campaign, that we end up with a Steam Railway. It sounded far fetched to me !
I shall let you have a Street Plan and give more details if and when we make further progress.
Chair Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group.