SCN - Plans to transform a neglected part of Ayr’s historic town centre into a thriving new public realm have been approved by South Ayrshire Council.

Submitted by Ayr Renaissance in November, the new masterplan, which involves the regeneration of land between the medieval “Auld Brig” and the Victorian “New Bridge”, includes the demolition of the massive retail stores which have blocked access to the river since the 1960s, the creation of landscaped public realm, alongside a festival building and an elegant new waterfront for the town.

Plans to develop a new modern office development for around 350 workers at the Riverside Block were approved in December allowing hub South West Scotland to oversee the development in partnership with the council and Keppie Architects to plan and design the offices.

The masterplan will deliver a vision for a mixed development including quality office accommodation and housing, as well as space for niche retail units, cafes, restaurants and spaces for public engagement. The plan sets out a commitment to top quality design including the use of materials that relate to existing historic buildings and to an overall scale that respects the surrounding conservation area.

Councillor Bill McIntosh, leader of South Ayrshire Council, said the decision marked an exciting time, not just for Ayr, but for the whole of South Ayrshire: “I’m very proud we’re now at the point when we will see the physical works to regenerate Ayr get underway. This has been a long time coming and marks the start of a whole new era for the town that will create a legacy for generations to come.

“The transformation of this riverside site and the opportunities to open up the river as a feature once again, will breathe new life into the town and will well and truly ensure Ayr is a true destination of choice for living, working and leisure. Ayr has a vibrant and exciting future ahead – and it starts now.”

Traditional vennels, in keeping with the existing town centre, will open up informal pedestrian connections throughout the Riverside Block site from all directions; while in the longer term, the River Ayr Walk, which currently ends at the Auld Brig, could continue across the site, running along the river to the sea. The north shore is also part of the plan which will be re-landscaped as part of the framing of a new River Square including the stretch of river flanked by both bridges – with the potential to become the focal point for festivities and events.

James Knox, chairman of Ayr Renaissance, said: “This decision marks a turning point in the fortunes of Ayr. Decades of blight will be swept away, opening up the river to the locals for the first time in generations.

“Our masterplan offers a humane and beautiful solution to the transformation of this key sight which will act as a magnet for visitors, office workers and inhabitants alike.”

The masterplan was prepared by architect Niall McLaughlin, who has worked extensively for Oxford University and the London Olympic Authority, and Charles Jencks, world renowned land artist and co-founder of Maggie’s Centres which builds cancer centres designed the world’s top architects.

The full application for the Ayr Riverside Block can be found here.

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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