East Ayrshire

Diggers move in on East Ayrshire retail site

Ashleigh AyrshireA regeneration project in East Ayrshire has taken a step forward following the arrival of diggers on site. 

The regeneration of Townhead Street in Cumnock is now thoroughly underway as work begins on a £2.2 million retail development.

Seven units will be built by contractors Ashleigh Building for sale or lease.

Helen McLean of Cumnock Community Council said she was pleased with the plans, which have been drawn up in conjunction with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Communities.

The new shopfronts will also include three spaces for on street parking for people with disabilities.

Council Leader Douglas Reid met with Ms Mclean, the project team and representatives of Ashleigh Building to see the site.

He said: “We’ve already seen a lot of Cumnock’s traditional buildings getting a facelift thanks to the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) funding, and the building of Rothesay House was a big step forward, but now we’re getting a chance to tackle the retail side of the town.

“The new shops are being offered firstly to current occupants of the Glaisnock Centre, and a number of other businesses have also shown an interest.  The units will provide a solid future for existing and new businesses.

“We’re looking forward to a handover in the Spring of 2016.”

Morrison Construction enjoys £5m success in Ayrshire

Morrison ConstructionMorrison Construction is celebrating contract wins in Kilmarnock and Prestwick with a combined worth in excess of £5 million.

Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Ltd has chosen the contractor to construct its new specialist paint facility at Prestwick, in a contract worth £4.1m in total.  The project involves the construction of a new paint finishing centre which will form an extension to Building 90 and replace two of the existing paint facilities currently operating on the campus.

Across in Kilmarnock, Morrison has been contracted to build a new 15,000ft² retail extension at the existing Queens Drive retail park to house Smyth Toys, for Aegon UK Property, valued at £1.4m. This project started on site on 11 May for 20 weeks.

Eddie Robertson, regional director, said: “It is an important success for us to win these contracts as they support our business strategy to diversify into new markets, looking to broaden our client base and build new long term relationships.

“We are working closely with the teams both at Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Ltd and Aegon, as well as the Ayrshire community, and I believe our scale and adaptability are contributory factors in our continued success.”

Plans proceed for Cumnock education campus

East Aryshire CouncilEast Ayrshire Council’s cabinet has agreed to proceed with a project for a new state of the art learning campus in Cumnock.

The proposed new campus, set to be built on part of Broomfield Playing Fields, would see a new Hillside School, a new school to replace Greenmill and Barshare Primaries and Early Childhood Centres a new secondary school to replace Cumnock and Auchinleck Academies and new Supported Learning Centres to replace those at Barshare and Cumnock Academy.

Plans include purpose-designed facilities for dining, games, sports and recreation, information communication technology, drama and the arts.

The decision will now be considered by the council’s governance and scrutiny committee.

An extensive consultation process revealed widespread support for the project although some reservations were mooted in favour of refurbishing the existing Barshare school to retain its local presence.

Councillor Stephanie Primrose, the council’s spokesperson for promoting lifelong learning, said:  “I am reassured that Education Scotland is so positive about the proposals and believe that they will mean additional educational benefit for all pupils.

“I understand the concern from those in properties neighbouring Broomfield, but there is an absolute commitment to work with them on the design and on location within the site so that any adverse impact is minimised. We are also committed to ensure that there is no reduction in the level of facilities needed for sports use.

“We need to recognise legitimate safety concerns and there must be no compromise on this. If our road safety colleagues are not able to make routes as safe as they need to be in terms of national guidance then we need to make sure additional transport directly to the campus is provided.”

Councillor Eoghann MacColl, spokesperson for promoting lifelong learning said: “This is leading edge thinking. This new campus will have some of the best facilities in the UK and has the capacity to raise ambition and aspiration of this and future generations.

“It means that three separate schools with three separate head teachers will all have top notch sports, recreational, theatre and ICT facilities that will be accessible by the community as well. There is also the opportunity to include Ayrshire College provision and Business Enterprise starter units.

“The investment shows our confidence in our young people. Experience at combined campuses at Grange and St Joseph’s has been excellent and we have seen good educational outcomes.”

Mactaggart & Mickel Contracts hands over Kilmarnock affordable housing development

West Langlands (2)The keys have been handed over for a £4.4 million affordable housing development in Kilmarnock, delivered by Mactaggart & Mickel Contracts, a division of Mactaggart & Mickel Group.

The 1.8 acre site at West Langlands has 39 housing units which will be used by East Ayrshire Council, providing much needed affordable stock to the local community. Reflecting the varying needs of housebuyers, the development features six property types ranging from one to three-bedrooms and offers fully accessible wheelchair living.

Peter Shepherd, director at Mactaggart & Mickel Contracts, said: “It was extremely rewarding to work with East Ayrshire Council on this project and help address the shortage of social housing in the area. With the delivery of affordable housing currently high on the political and social agenda, it’s important for local authorities and contractors to work together to help supply projects like this.

“We’ve been delivering partnership developments for a number of years and are well-versed in the need to offer value for money without compromising on quality. We’re currently working on several other affordable housing projects and plan to continue expanding our portfolio for delivering homes in partnership with local authorities and housing associations.”

Councillor Douglas Reid said: “The West Langland Street site is a really ambitious build with 39 new homes being built on the site of the former cattle market. It is like a pleasant oasis in the heart of the town centre. Only a few hundred yards from the bustling Kings Street, John Finnie Street and the railway station, there is a unique mixture of different house types, meeting a wide variety of housing needs, from large family homes to specialist wheelchair accommodation, which will benefit the community. This has probably been the biggest transformation of any housing site to date, on the site of the old cattle market which has lain derelict for years.

“This whole area was at one time a thriving industrial scene, with the former cattle market just metres away from Andrew Barclay’s Caledonia Works. Demolished in 2009, the cattle market site will soon be thriving once again with new tenants moving in.

“Throughout East Ayrshire over 200 affordable homes are being built, providing specially designed new homes for elderly and disabled residents. The tenants I have visited at the sites already completed find their new homes life changing and I know that West Langland Street will be no different.”

Keppie aims to inspire future architects with schools design challenge

Hardeep Singh KohliKeppie Design has called for architects to address the gulf between education and practice as it announced Cumnock Academy as the winner of the top prize at the finale of its ‘Interaction’ challenge.

Run in partnership with East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire College, Interaction was an enterprise education challenge in which seven secondary schools in East Ayrshire participated. The finale was held in the council chambers and was hosted by TV personality and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli.

In November the pupils were challenged to design an inspirational, flexible and open learning space for the new Ayrshire College campus, which is being built on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and for which Keppie is the delivery architect.  Using the construction project as the basis for the brief, the college has been acting as a client for the students.

David Ross, design director from Keppie and the creator of Interaction, said: “As part of their business and enterprise programmes, the school pupils have been learning skills and attitudes to help prepare them for the world of work. The Interaction project is a great way to develop those skills and to help create the open, interactive and collaborative learning environment the new college is aspiring to be.

“It has been fantastic to see all of the teams’ incredible design ideas. The judging panel of design professionals, educators and leading business people were genuinely speechless at the quality of the ideas and the polished way in which they were presented. The teams from all of the participating schools are an absolute credit to East Ayrshire and exemplify the mature and innovative way in which learning is delivered in the area.”

The winning design from Cumnock Academy will form the basis of the solution which the college team (including Keppie Design, structural engineer Ramboll, contractor McLaughlin & Harvey and interior designer Space Solutions) will implement, with the winning team remaining part of the process. The next step is to present the design solution to the college’s project board.

The following people made up the judging panel:

  • Hardeep Singh Kohli, TV personality and broadcaster (chair)
  • Professor Christopher Platt, head of Mackintosh School of Architecture
  • Marie Macklin CBE, Ayrshire College Board of Management and CEO of the Klin Group
  • Eileen Mackin, Ayrshire College project team leader
  • Ryan Sylvester, divisional director at Keppie Design and project architect for the new Ayrshire College.

Cumnock Academy demonstrated thinking in a wide variety of areas including furniture, lighting, acoustics and fabrics. The team presented a comprehensive solution that showed a significant amount of background research which included testing the durability of materials, the flow of traffic in the college and accessibility of the space. The team also showed several skills by using video content and the use of modelling software in their presentation.

Professor Christopher Platt, judge and head of Mackintosh School of Architecture, said: “The Interaction project is a fantastic example of schools, higher education and industry working together. Architecture is not taught in schools as a subject so it is increasingly important for firms like Keppie to engage with education to improve how the profession is perceived by those who may go on to become the architects of the future.”

David Ross explained the background to the project and its aspirations: “In general terms, architects engage far less with the communities in which we operate than we’d like to admit, given that listening and communicating with those who experience our work is an essential part of the job. To an extent, this could be as a consequence of a gulf between education and practice which has already been recognised by many educators. By addressing this issue there is an opportunity for architectural practices to become directly involved in changing how the profession is understood and perceived by those who may go on to become the architects of the future.

“What we get from an initiative such as Interaction is a real sense of contribution.  Keppie operates a specific work experience programme that has seen several of those who’ve been through it become full-time employees after their further education courses.  They have been coached in the way we want to work and have therefore made an easy and quick transition into the world of work.  It is my view that more practices need to collaborate with, and support, the wider spectrum of education in order to protect, nurture and ultimately strengthen the profession for the future. That seems like an aspiration worth sharing.”

First steps taken to turn East Ayrshire castle into top class tourist destination

Standing outside of Rowallan Old Castle (from left) Ian Walford, joint chief executive at Historic Scotland; Niall Campbell, castle owner; Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs; Cllr Douglas Reid, East Ayrshire Council leader; Ranald MacInnes, head of heritage management west, Historic Scotland

Standing outside of Rowallan Old Castle (from left) Ian Walford, joint chief executive at Historic Scotland; Niall Campbell, castle owner; Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs; Cllr Douglas Reid, East Ayrshire Council leader; Ranald MacInnes, head of heritage management west, Historic Scotland

Rowallan Old Castle in Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire is to be removed from state guardianship in a move which will pave the way for its conversion into a key feature of a top class tourist destination.

Announced by Scottish ministers on Friday, the move follows negotiations between Historic Scotland, Rowallan Castle’s owner Niall Campbell, and East Ayrshire Council.

The owner can now progress plans for the building’s sympathetic conversion into unique hotel accommodation, as part of the Rowallan Castle Golf Course and Country Club, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building.

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs was at the castle to make the announcement.

Ms Hyslop said: “One of the key priorities of Scotland’s recently introduced Historic Environment Strategy, Our Place in Time, is that we have to be ambitious and innovative in our approach to the historic environment. Change is an inevitable part of this and the important thing is how we manage this change – there has to be a balance between protection and innovation. I believe that, thanks to the collaborative working between local government, the castle owner and Historic Scotland, we’ve been able to achieve the correct balance and I look forward to seeing the re-use of the building acting as a catalyst for enhancing economic and social wellbeing in the area.

“Scottish Ministers remain absolutely committed to conserving Rowallan Old Castle as a nationally significant monument for future generations to enjoy.  This step will pave the way for an innovative and productive partnership between the national agency, the local authority and the building’s owner which will be in the best interests of the monument and the local economy.”

Niall Campbell, the Castle’s owner said: “I’m absolutely delighted with today’s announcement. We’ve come a long way in getting to this point and there’s still a bit of work to be done. Thanks to positive discussions with Historic Scotland and East Ayrshire Council, I’m now in a position to progress with plans to convert the building into something which can be lived in, using minimal intervention, in a sympathetic manner that is consistent with the building’s history and cultural significance.

“The end result will be a wonderful new space for visitors to the area, which retains all of the features that make the castle so special, and will be a benefit to the local community for years to come. I’m sure that my distant relation, James Muir Campbell, who lived in the house seven generations ago, would be proud of what we’re trying to do.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “Tourism is key to the East Ayrshire economy, and an integral part of this Council’s economic development plan is to build on our existing tourist product. To that end we are delighted to be able to work with Mr Campbell to add another option for top class accommodation in the area. Building on the recent success story of Dumfries House, and the work we have done with Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes in all our major town centres, today’s announcement will undoubtedly add to East Ayrshire’s growing reputation for history, heritage and outdoor tourism, as well as creating jobs and bringing money into the area.”

Rowallan has attracted the wider attention of architects and experts in the heritage sector in recent years.

Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: “The sympathetic restoration and adaptation of historic buildings to new uses is in everyone’s interests. It recognises that such buildings provide literal touchstones to our shared past, ensures their preservation for future generations to enjoy, provides employment and helps deliver a viable economic future for Scotland’s communities. It is often challenging to achieve all of this, but undoubtedly worth the effort.”

Mr Campbell’s proposal includes converting the Old Castle into an exclusive annex of the current 5 star Rowallan Castle and Golf Country Club. The annex will comprise of 4 double bedrooms, dining room, lounge gallery and lounge sitting room (solar). Work is expected to get underway in Summer 2015 and take around 12 months to complete.

In order to provide for the future conservation and management of the building a detailed, 30 year conservation plan has been agreed upon, which includes conservation and maintenance stipulations as well as public access requirements. The plan was proposed by Mr Campbell and prepared by leading conservation architects with experience of working with historical buildings. The agreement is legally binding and would apply to any future owner or owners of the building during the 30 year period. Guardianship will only be rescinded once Scottish ministers are satisfied that all these terms have been met.

Rowallan Old Castle dates from the 13th – 18th centuries and lies close to Kilmaurs, East Ayrshire.  It is situated within the grounds of Rowallan Castle Golf and Country Club. The site consists of the ruined remains of historic structures and an important 16-18th roofed and habitable domestic range.

Scottish ministers are guardians of Rowallan Old Castle by virtue of a Guardianship Agreement dating back to 1950, when it was passed into State care by the Rowallan family. Guardianship gives ministers the responsibility for repair and maintenance as well as presentation of a site. Historic Scotland currently look after the castle on behalf of Scottish ministers.

East Ayrshire Council to deliver £395m of schools investment

East_AyrshireEast Ayrshire Council has announced a capital investment of £395 million to deliver a range of ambitious and innovative education projects.

Proposals were unveiled for the creation of a £63m Learning and Enterprise development in the Cumnock area. The Knockroon Learning and Enterprise Campus will be the first of its kind in Scotland; offering education and training opportunities for young people of all ages and all abilities, including early years, primary and secondary education, special school, further education in partnership with Ayrshire College, and business enterprise opportunities.

The announcement compliments plans previously approved for the construction of a new £40m Learning Campus for 3-18 year olds in Kilmarnock, bringing together two existing primary schools and two secondary schools and including Gaelic education.

In addition, four new primary schools will be built, namely St Sophia’s Primary School, Galston; Bellsbank Primary School and Early Childhood Centre with Community Facilities, Dalmellington; Muirkirk Primary School and Early Childhood Centre, with community facilities and a merger of Bellfield and Kirkstyle primaries in Kilmarnock.

There are plans too, to undertake a major school refurbishment programme, for improvements, extensions and smaller building works on a number of existing schools to ensure the entire school estate reaches either an A or B quality rating.

The council has also approved expansions at various early childhood establishments to create the facilities necessary for the provision of 600 hours of early learning and childcare for all 3 and 4 years olds and those 2 year olds who are looked after or under kinship care orders.

In recognition of the increasingly significant role digital technology plays in education, a budget of £290k has been allocated to provide mobile devices to support pilot work in three schools, providing vital internet resources to support their learning.

Presenting the proposals to Cabinet, Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “The new proposals will see East Ayrshire Council delivering two of the biggest and most ambitious education projects in its history, and will also result in every school in the area benefiting in some way from this major investment programme.

“We are committed to giving our young people the best possible start in life. These youngsters are the future of East Ayrshire and it’s vital that they have access to the best possible facilities and learning environments as they progress through the different stages of the education curriculum and eventually into employment.

“This investment in our schools is confirmation of our confidence in our young people.”

£450m plans unveiled to regenerate Loudoun Castle

Loudoun Castle

Developers have submitted plans to turn a former family theme park into a £450m holiday and leisure destination.

The Loudoun Castle Project aims to create an all-weather resort at the 610-acre site at Galston, East Ayrshire, featuring 450 luxury lodges, 12 glamping pitches, a lake and leisure development, indoor sports facilities and an indoor subtropical water park. Up to 2,500 new jobs could be created.

The site will also feature a new distillery, while Loudoun Castle itself will be stabilised and leading conservation specialists will assess what can be done with the building.

It is anticipated that around 1000 jobs will be created in the construction process for a period of at least five years, with an additional 1500 long-term jobs created through the leisure and retail side of the plan.

Key partners in the Loudoun Castle Project include private investment group EIF, global programme management and construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, global planning consultants RPS and specialist castle and heritage consultant Francis Shaw.

David Mace, chairman of the Loudoun Castle Project, said: “A development of this size and scale will provide Scotland and Ayrshire with significant long-term economic benefits both in terms of jobs and tourism.

“The local community and Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley MSP Willie Coffey are delighted that we have assembled such a strong team of professionals that are committed to turning this vision into reality.

“Scottish tourism has had a great year given the international attention the country has received in 2014 through the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland.

“We are keen to maximise the legacy created, by adding a world-class all-weather leisure facility and a visitor attraction that has real stand out. We will clearly attract new visitors from home and abroad and positively impact Ayrshire, making the whole of Scotland proud.”

Nick Laister, senior director at RPS Planning & Development, which is submitting the planning application on behalf of The Loudoun Castle Project, said: “Since the site was allocated in the East Ayrshire Local Plan in 2010, it has been an aspiration of the Council to secure the future of Loudoun Castle as a major tourism destination.

“Having been involved with the planning of the site since the middle of the last decade, I am delighted to be submitting a planning application for a development that is going to realise that vision and have such a significant positive economic impact on the area.

“This proposal will create a unique, high quality resort in this dramatic location with the restoration of the Grade A listed Castle at its heart.

“We have spent the last 18 months consulting with the local community and refining the plans and we look forward to working with East Ayrshire Council and other local stakeholders to make this hugely important development a reality.”

There are also plans for a residential development featuring a mix of house styles including starter homes, bungalows and three, four and five-bedroom family homes.

Project bosses this week submitted a planning in principle application to East Ayrshire Council for the two-phased development.

If the local authority gives the go ahead, work would begin onsite in 2016. Developers expect the first phase to open in 2018.

Councils welcome £330m Schools for the Future funding announcement

Waid entrance

Plans for an innovative, ground-breaking replacement building for Waid Academy in Anstruther have been unveiled following the £330 million Scottish Government investment into expanded Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.

The Waid will be one of six secondary schools and two primaries which make up Fife Council’s Building Fife’s Future Programme.

Fife Council leader Cllr. David Ross, said: “We have very ambitious plans for The Waid, to create not just a school but a whole community hub which is both innovative and inspirational in design and which will serve all the communities of the East Neuk. Today’s announcement that SFT will part fund the project will help us realise those ambitions much sooner and I am delighted we can now move forward with this exciting project.”

The Waid will be a ground-breaking, collaborative project, which will bring a huge range of public services under one roof. This will be a first, not just for the communities of Anstruther and the East Neuk, but it will be the first of its kind in Fife and can deliver a blueprint for a new way of working for all Fife’s community partners.

Perth & Kinross Council has welcomed the announcement from the Scottish Government of funding of £14.5 million to facilitate replacement primary schools for both Tulloch and Kinross.

The funding will be added to the £8.5m previously identified from the council’s Capital Programme and will allow the local authority to replace both schools on their existing sites.

The council has been in discussion with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Future Trust for a considerable amount of time regarding possible investment which would lead to replacement schools being developed in these two communities. With the funding available, work on the new schools will begin as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that both new schools will be operational for the 2017/18 school session.

Councillor Bob Band, convener of the council’s lifelong learning committee, said: “We have been aware for some time that Kinross and Tulloch Primary Schools are coming to the end of their usable life, and have been actively developing options to allow us to continue to deliver high quality education with minimal disruption to our communities.  When the latest round of funding from the Scottish Government was made known, we were able to submit a strong case clearly setting out the requirements for replacing both schools for the benefit of over 800 pupils who will now receive their education in a modern facility.  This funding will allow us to move forward with our preferred option for replacing both schools and I am delighted that neither of the communities will be losing out.

“I would like to thank the Parent Council’s from both Tulloch and Kinross for their patience while we pursued a range of funding opportunities.  I hope today’s announcement will satisfy everyone and that we can all continue to work together to develop two new schools that will serve these two communities for many years to come.”

Children and communities across East Ayrshire will also benefit from the announcement by the Scottish Government to provide funding towards the replacement of six schools in the area.

The schools involved are: St Sophia’s Primary School, Galston; Bellsbank Primary School, Dalmellington; Muirkirk Primary School and three schools in Cumnock – Greenmill Primary School; Barshare Primary School and Hillside School. The three schools in Cumnock will be located on a single campus, all subject to any necessary statutory consultation.