A multi-million pound project to transform the historic gateway to Ayr town centre is due to get underway later this year thanks to funding from South Ayrshire Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The HLF monies (£1.08 million) will supplement the Council’s investment in the Ayr Townscape Heritage Initiative (Ayr THI) to provide grant funding of more than £2.5 million for the repair and refurbishment of properties within the THI area, with the priority buildings being on New Bridge Street – known locally as the ‘pink buildings’.
The project will ensure the refurbished properties present a colourful and quality gateway for people living in, working in and visiting the popular Scots town.
The Ayr THI, which will be managed by Ayr Renaissance Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) on behalf of the Council, is the latest stage in the work to regenerate Ayr town centre and ensure it is an appealing and attractive option for residents, businesses and visitors.
The THI will not only ensure the special historical and architectural character of the conservation area is properly maintained, it will also provide the opportunity to encourage traditional conservation methods and techniques, support on-the-job training and raise awareness of conservation as a potential career.
The announcement of the HLF funding follows the much-anticipated facelift for properties in Ayr’s Sandgate, High Street and Newmarket Street under the Ayr Renaissance project, which has delivered visible improvements to this part of town. This transformation is making a real difference and will continue as the project moves forward.
The Ayr Renaissance project is designed to rejuvenate Ayr town centre over the next 20 years, with a focus on improving the arrival ‘hubs’ of the town, improving connections within the town and developing quality residential, retail and commercial accommodation.
Three vacant retail premises are also being refurbished and offered to let in a bid to encourage trade and business in this part of the town. Through both projects, the Council is exploring opportunities to use the recent Future Jobs funding to provide jobs for those who are unemployed.
South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainability and the Environment, Councillor Peter Convery, said: “Ayr THI is really exciting news for the town and I am delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund is providing such a significant sum of money to make our dreams a reality in this part of South Ayrshire.
“Ayr is a fantastic town with lots of potential and we want to ensure that we not only get it back to its former glory days, but surpass everything it was before. We want our town to attract people of all ages for short visits, days out, holidays and lifetimes and I have no doubt this project will go a long way to helping achieve that.
“It will also provide an ideal opportunity to embed the importance of the town’s heritage in our training and education initiatives and ensure everyone involved in the project understands the skills required in heritage-led design and construction work, which is a key element of the project.
“The transformation of these buildings will make a terrific difference and ignite a real sense of civic pride in our residents. I can’t wait to see work get underway.”
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Conservation-led regeneration schemes, such as Ayr THI, work best when they are firmly embedded in a wider economic strategy for the area. So it is fitting that Ayr THI is being launched at a time when there are so many other initiatives for the town. By complementing each other, these initiatives can inject life and activity into the centre to help it survive the recession.”
In welcoming the successful Ayr THI award, Michael Hitchon, President of Kyle and Carrick Civic Society, added: “This gateway into Ayr from the north will become once more a welcoming sight. It has deteriorated for too long. Together with floodlighting of Ayr’s New Brig and the Town Buildings, it will make a big difference to first impressions. We are pleased to have played our part in supporting the THI bid, and look forward to seeing exemplary restoration in the outstanding conservation area thus giving new life to old buildings. It should inspire further good work.”
Alan MacDonald, Chair of Ayr Renaissance LLP, added: “This is yet another important milestone in the project to transform Ayr town centre offering more job opportunities and improvements in the local environment and enhanced facilities. This will help boost both the local and national economies and ensure that Ayr continues to attract employment, tourism and expenditure for the benefit of everyone in the area.”
Councillor Bill McIntosh (pictured above), Leader of South Ayrshire Council and member of the Ayr Renaissance LLP board, concluded: “With the projects already completed and the significant volume of work due to take place within the town centre, there is no doubt this is truly the start of the renaissance of Ayr.
“We already have so much to be proud of and a regenerated Ayr town centre will make a significant difference not only for those of us who live and work here but also for visitors, investors and businesses.
“The Ayr Renaissance strategy and the THI works will help generate real pride in this town once again and ensure it stands out as a destination of choice in this part of the world.”
Work on the Ayr THI is expected to get underway by early 2011 and will take up to four years to complete. The post of project manager will be advertised in the near future.
The Ayr Renaissance Strategy – delivered through the Ayr Renaissance Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – is designed to rejuvenate Ayr town centre over the next 20 years, with a focus on improving the arrival ‘hubs’ of the town, improving connections within the town and developing quality residential, retail and commercial accommodation.
To help achieve this, the LLP received £2.258 million for the regeneration of Ayr town centre in the first tranche of Town Centre Regeneration Funding – the largest amount awarded to a single town centre project – and this included £500,000 towards the refurbishment of the Gaiety Theatre.
In the first phase of the Ayr Renaissance project, we have seen the much-anticipated facelift for properties in Ayr’s Sandgate, High Street and Newmarket Street, delivering visible improvements to this part of town. This transformation is making a real difference and will continue as the project moves forward.
Taking forward the Ayr THI is the next major step for Ayr Renaissance. The LLP has also approved a business plan that will be presented to the Council in due course. Short-term aims within the plan focus on the northern hub of the town and the move to acquire key properties within the High Street.