Updated: Oct 31, 2019
We are all very concerned about the Station Hotel, about the safety aspects, about the possible loss of our Victorian heritage, about the loss of an attractive view at the top of the town. We're worried about having a long period of demolition costing three to four and a half million pounds followed by having a mundane, new, glass and steel basic station which will look boring at first and ugly later on. It will be designed to last twenty five years only and is likely to cost twenty million pounds to build. Ayr Station Hotel has been the gateway to Ayr for over 150 years. Restoration and development of current uses suitable for Ayr's needs is likely to be a lot cheaper and the building is likely to last another hundred years.
Ayr Station Hotel Community Action Group has had two well attended public meetings in April and August, the later having over 300 hundred people present, apart from a couple of people everyone wanted to keep the station hotel as an attractive gateway to Ayr, an important part of the fabric of the town and as a place of fond memories. There was also the feeling that with restoration and redevelopment, the building would provide amenities for the town which a glass and steel station would not do.
Given the chance it could provide the station and some of the following list: -
a cafe/restaurant for the use train passengers and users of the building, a bijoux hotel, a gym, a social centre, offices, student hostel and social or co-operative housing. To conserve the building and develop it sensitively would take less time than demolition and the new build option. This could take as long as two years, whereas to make safe would take months. To fix the whole roof would take about a year or so i am told but the station could function once it was made safe.
South Ayrshire Council (SAC) and NetworkRail are making the building safe, ready for a structural engineer report to be prepared. The firm Mott McDonald has been commissioned to provide this report. At the moment there is disruption to the rail services until the building is made safe by about January/February, at which point the report will be done. There is a Task Force made up of SAC, the Rail Companies and Heritage Environment Scotland etc, looking at the safety aspects of the train service and this will continue until the train service is sorted out.
Meantime at our second public we had a speaker, Una Richards from Scottish Historic Buildings Trust which have an established record over 30 years of restoring important Scottish buildings. The Trust has made preliminary moves to undertaking a feasibility study and have offered to take over the buildings subject to the Report findings. They normally purchase any property they take on and complete the whole process from purchase to restoration to planning the development, to finding the funds. As the government would be obliged to pay for the whole cost of a new build, the Action Group feel that the government should be responsible for much of the cost.