£ 30m MESS
Regeneration in focus after ‘ carbuncle’ binned
The £ 30million dream to revive Ayr town centre lies in tatters this week.
Council bosses have been ordered back to the drawing board after a humiliating defeat at the hands of the public.
Their bid to erect a new Burns House – an £ 11m anchor to the riverside overhaul – has been unanimously thrown out by their own councillors.
Now community leaders, who hailed the result as a “victory for democracy,” insist the town’s future cannot turn to dust.
Norman McLean, chair of Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council, said: “We will continue to be a thorn in the side and will not let the matter rest.
“The people have spoken. Now we would like the council to get round the table and listen.”
Plans for the new office block at the foot of the High Street were labelled a “monstrous carbuncle” during a highly charged planning hearing attended by more than 100 residents at County Hall.
A victory for good oldfashioned democracy it may have been.
A humiliating defeat for those in charge of South Ayrshire Council it most certainly was.
And in the end, only one real option faced those charged with sealing the fate of the now infamous “monstrous carbuncle”.
Burns House II now threatens to stain not just the long- term legacy of Ayr, but the short- term careers of those steering its path.
Councillors across the political divide, both past and present, joined forces with community leaders and objectors drawn far and wide.
Their message clear: bin this nonsense now.
From the moment SNP councillor, Siobhian Brown, addressed a packed planning hearing at County
Buildings last Wednesday, the tone was set.
“I am baffled at how we as a council have ended up here,” she said.
“I understand why so many people are here today and are so passionate about this.
“We all want the best for our town. This needs reconsidered as a matter of urgency.”
Bosses from Ayr Renaissance took a watching brief from the back of the audience which numbered more than 100- strong.
Key figures, including James Knox and David Bell, had been charged with delivering the original masterplan for the town’s regeneration.
But office block designs were entirely the baby of council officials, who employed Glasgow- based architects Keppie.
Norman McLean, a leading voice in the campaign against their designs, said initial “excitement” fired up by the Renaissance masterplan had now long subsided.
The chairman of Fort, Seafield, and Wallacetown Community Council added: “The concept is unimaginative and oversized.
“In the late 60s, the Royal Burgh of Ayr Town Council granted consent for Burns House and the
General Accident Building and we live with the consequences.
“We cannot repeat those same mistakes.
“I showed a friend of mine these designs and she said it looks like they’ve taken Burns House and dropped it at the bottom end of the High Street.”
Former SNP councillorIan Douglas added: “It is the detail that matters here. The heart of our town has to be right and we cannot erect another Burns House.”
Michael Hitchon, president of the Kyle and Carrick Civic Society, labelled the plans “bland, repetitive and dull”.
David Dickson, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire, added: “Thanks to Ayr Renaissance we should have a fine opportunity here.
“It is a treasure of a site.
“But this building is out of place and out of proportion.
“This is not a political issue – it is about people wanting to preserve their county town.”
Shaun Darwent, speaking on behalf of wife and former Labour councillor, Kirsty, said: “It is a bitter disappointment which should be refused.
“Ayr and its people deserve better.”
Resident Neville Washington added: “This represents a rare opportunity which the people of Ayr will live with for a generation or more.
“What we have is a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved friend.”
Former South Ayrshire SNP leader Allan Dorans – who played a key role within Ayr Renaissance until his departure as a councillor – said: “At no time did I envisage such a bland building.
“It is not in keeping with such a historically significant location and negates the work of Ayr Renaissance over the last nine years.”
David Stavell said: “The development is a disgrace.
“When will this council realise this is not their place and we are not their people?”
A council spokesman said: “We are now considering our options.”
No go Plans for new High Street office block have been rejected
Victory Campaigners ( from left) Norman McLean, Robert Singer, Sandy Crawford and Michael Hitchon
Tragic Mark McCubbin was found dead on Monday
Objectors From left Sandy Crawford, Michael Hitchon, Judith Paterson, Norman McLean, Forbes Watson, Phil Martin and Eileen Munroe