South Ayrshire

South Ayrshire Council agrees eight-year £237m capital programme

A new eight-year capital investment programme which sets out total investment of almost £237 million until 2025/26 was agreed by South Ayrshire Council yesterday.

Key features of the programme include more than £43 million strategic investment in ICT and £3m more in 2018/19 for road reconstruction and improvement.

An additional £12m for a new ‘all-through’ campus at Carrick Academy was also agreed, taking the budget to more than £19m as part of a total investment package of more than £74m in the education estate

A £1m package to support Maybole town centre regeneration, £750,000 to support the implementation of 20 mile per hour speed limits in towns and villages and £855,000 to improve public toilet provision made up the spending programme.

Also agreed yesterday was a £186 million revenue budget for 2018/19 includes additional investment in key areas that support the council’s vision for Our People, Our Place. This includes:

  • Increasing the school clothing grant by 50% to £75 pounds (£66,000)
  • £65,000 to support the schools at the heart of the community project and to provide additional holiday activities for schools in the most socially-disadvantaged areas
  • £20,000 to reinstate a fund to support community galas
  • £17,000 to cover the letting costs for breakfast clubs in our schools
  • Supporting the development of place plans for the five towns and villages programme, with £100,000 for improved signage and community engagement
  • £75,000 to support staff training and retraining initiatives to ensure the council can deliver the right services in the best possible way.

Councillors agreed the use of £1.5m of uncommitted reserves for revenue spending, and a further £3m from uncommitted reserves split evenly between the Repairs and Renewals Fund and the Capital Fund.

They also approved funding of £71m pounds for the South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which is an increase of 2.5% on previous years.

Council leader Douglas Campbell said: “What we have agreed today is an unprecedented budget for this Council – a budget that has been shaped by our people, for our people.

“It’s the outcome of consultation and engagement with thousands of people across South Ayrshire who took the time to have their say – and who we have listened and responded to. As a result, this budget genuinely balances the resources we have with the services and facilities people want and need, and I want to thank those people for their participation.

“From the outset last year, we have been clear as an administration about what matters to us and that is our people and our places. They sit at the heart of everything we do and the ambitions we have not just for the Council, but for the whole South Ayrshire area.

“We want South Ayrshire to be the best it can be and for all people and places to have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, through this budget, we are laying the foundations for a strengthened South Ayrshire that works for all, but especially the most in need.

“I’m pleased we have addressed the restrictions of the current financial climate head-on, while taking steps to ensure the impact and burden of balancing the budget doesn’t fall on those least able to pay.

“That’s not been easy, and we’ve had to do this while meeting necessary costs like pay awards for staff and increased contractual costs – all of which impacts on how much we have to spend.

“That’s why we can be proud that we have agreed a balanced budget today that not only bridges the challenging budget gap we’ve had to meet, but also provides an ambitious programme of investment that will improve lives and make a difference where it matters most.

“This budget invests in our vision, in our people, and in our places to create a strong, sustainable South Ayrshire – and that’s something we all want to see.”

Full details of the budget can be found here.

Work starts on Ayr’s new Queen Margaret Academy

Young people across South Ayrshire are set to benefit as work starts on the new Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr.

The new state-of-the-art school which will be completed in October 2019 will not only help transform learning but is set to become a hub for the local community.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and cabinet secretary for education and skills, joined with young people, staff and South Ayrshire councillors to mark the start of the work.

The £25 million project has been made possible thanks to £8.5m from South Ayrshire Council and £16.5m from the Scottish Government through their ‘Schools for the Future’ programme.

The new school which is currently being built in the grounds of the existing school will have places for up to 800 young people.

Featuring modern classrooms and interactive learning environments, large games hall, a gym, a fitness and movement room, two all-weather pitches, and hard games courts, the school is sure to impress.

Pupils Niamh Scullion (left) and Alex Hull join council leader Douglas Campbell and Deputy First Minister John Swinney

The new Queen Margaret Academy will also be home to Psychological Services and a Supported Learning Centre, which are already at the existing school and will have accommodation for teaching Gaelic.

When the school opens in 2019, the old building will then be demolished and the site fully landscaped.

The school is being built by Kier Construction and is being delivered by South Ayrshire Council in partnership with hub South West. The £25m project is part of a £94m programme of works delivered across South Ayrshire with the aim of enhancing standards through targeted investment.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, said: “We know state-of-the-art accommodation can inspire students, staff and parents, and so I am very happy to help get work started on the new academy which will be the 104th school to start construction of a total 117 to be built under the Schools for the Future programme by March 2020.

“I am looking forward to seeing the difference this building will make for pupils in years to come, and pleased the Scottish Government was able to provide almost £17m from our Schools for the Future programme to help make this happen.”

Councillor Peter Henderson, resources and performance portfolio holder at South Ayrshire Council, said: “The start of work at the new Queen Margaret Academy is another example of our commitment to transform learning environments across South Ayrshire.

“One of our priorities is to ensure young people leave school with the skills they need for learning, life and work and delivering a first-class education is a significant step towards achieving this.

“Schools always play a central role in our communities. We have just introduced an initiative in some of our schools called Our People, Our Place. Through these schools we work with partners to deliver local services in the heart of communities.

“I have no doubt that when complete the new Queen Margaret Academy will also be a focal point and a hub for the community.”

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of delivery partner, hub South West, said: “We are delighted to see construction works now commencing on the new Queen Margaret Academy site. Having worked with South Ayrshire Council previously on a number of successful projects including Dailly Primary School, Tarbolton Community Campus and the fantastic new Ayr Academy, we are looking forward to building on our portfolio and our relationship with the council.

“The new Queen Margaret Academy will be a real asset to the local community and a wonderfully modern and innovative environment in which young people can learn and thrive.”

Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland, said: “We are pleased to start work on delivering this leading, modern academy for South Ayrshire Council which will provide fantastic new teaching and sports facilities for students and the wider community to enjoy.

“Through hub South West, we are working with local suppliers and SMEs to ensure that the project provides important training and employment opportunities and boosts the local economy. During construction, up to 100 workers will be on site during peak periods and we will create 20 work placements, 10 apprenticeships and a graduate traineeship, giving local young people valuable experience of working in this diverse and rewarding industry.”

Tony Flynn, Head Teacher at Queen Margaret Academy, said: “This is an exciting time for young people, parents and staff. The plans look amazing and extensive consultation took place to ensure the new school reflects the needs of everyone including the local community.

“The new school building will be a great benefit to our young people, given its state-of-the-art teaching facilities and extensive new sports facilities, which include two all-weather floodlit synthetic pitches and a fitness suite”.

The Bishop of Galloway, Right Reverend William Nolan blessed the site of the new school and said: “The Diocese of Galloway welcomes the investment by South Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government in building a new Queen Margaret Academy.

“This investment in a new building is an investment in our teachers and staff, supporting them in their enthusiasm to educate, teach and inspire our young people.

“It’s an investment in our children and in their future. The provision of a modern purpose built facility will inspire our children to seize the opportunity to grow in knowledge, wisdom and virtue.

“It’s an investment in Catholic education, ensuring a new home of learning that will serve the young people of today and of future generations. As we cut the first turf today, we look forward to when this building is complete.”

Proposals unveiled for new £42m South Ayrshire super school

An artist’s impression of how the campus might look

A consultation is now underway on proposals which could lead to the creation of a new Maybole Community Campus in the grounds of the existing Carrick Academy in South Ayrshire.

The £42 million project would have capacity for an estimated 1,400 pupils at a new Carrick Academy, an amalgamated Cairn Primary and Gardenrose Primary, a new St Cuthbert’s Primary, alongside associated early years provision, two full size all-weather pitches, and shared community facilities.

A public consultation is being held until April 20 where people will be able to have their say on the proposals. The outcome of this will be considered by councillors this summer for a final decision.

Councillor William Grant, South Ayrshire Council’s portfolio holder for lifelong learning, said the proposals presented a once in a lifetime opportunity: “We’re committed to providing young people with the best chances in life and while the standard of education in Maybole is high, the existing schools are badly in need of significant investment.

“By creating a brand new community campus, we’ll create a network of schools on a par with similar projects that have been completed or are underway across South Ayrshire, and which are already helping to transform the way people are taught.

“I’d urge anyone with an interest in these proposals to make their comments known through the consultation process, as their views will be considered ahead of a final decision being made later this year.”

The project will also consider the impact of Scottish Government’s plans to double early years childcare to 1140 hours per child by 2020.

Public meetings have been arranged for parents/carers and other stakeholders to discuss the proposal in detail:

  • Cairn Primary School: Tuesday 20 March at 7.00pm
  • Gardenrose Primary School: Wednesday 21 March at 7.00pm
  • St Cuthbert’s Primary School: Thursday 22 March at 7.00pm

Interested parties are invited to make written representations on the proposal no later than Friday 20 April 2018.

Full details of the proposal are available online here.

Affordable housing scheme completes in South Ayrshire

(from left) Colin Campbell (site manager, Keepmoat Homes), George Laing (clerk of works, Hanover Scotland), Mark Farey (director of asset management, Hanover Scotland), Cllr Philip Saxton (housing & customer services portfolio holder, South Ayrshire Council), Jim Kennedy (architectural manager, Keepmoat Homes), Kirsty Stillie (sales executive, Keepmoat Homes), Michael Harding (contracts manager, Keepmoat Homes), Jim Curran (development officer, Hanover Scotland)

Keepmoat Homes has been working in partnership with Hanover Scotland to deliver 10 affordable homes as part of the new 42 house Lyons Gate development.

The development at Heathfield Road, which received £763,000 investment from the Scottish Government through the Affordable Housing Supply Programme, comprises of eight cottage flats and two semi-detached houses for rent, and responds to local demand for quality and affordable housing in the town.

Sandy McBride, regional managing director for Keepmoat Homes, describes how the extensive regeneration of the area has been a key part in attracting interest from local people.

He said: “Before we even began the construction of new homes at Lyons Gate, we invested heavily in ground improvement works and consulting with the local community to ensure we delivered the right product.  Over recent years the demand for new housing in the area has continued to increase and we are pleased to be working in partnership with Hanover Housing Association and South Ayrshire Council to be able to meet this demand.

“It was important that we not only brought new homes for sale to the market, but we incorporated social housing within the scheme, as this underpins our commitment to transforming communities and supporting customers at all ends of the market.

“With our sales office now open – we encourage people to drop in and take a look at the new homes we have on offer and get an exclusive glimpse of the lifestyle available at Lyons Gate.”

Mark Farey, director of asset management at Hanover Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Ayrshire Council and Keepmoat Homes to bring modern, affordable homes to the area. This is a perfect example of how Hanover Scotland is working closely with local authorities to ensure Scotland delivers on its ambitious affordable housing target, providing high quality affordable homes suited to the needs of the local community.”

Councillor Philip Saxton, housing and customer services portfolio holder for South Ayrshire Council, added: “These homes are a fine example of what can be achieved through partnership working. South Ayrshire Council will continue to work closely with Hanover Scotland and other Registered Social Landlords to provide affordable housing that meets the needs of our communities.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am delighted to see the completion of the Lyons Gate development, which will bring great benefits to the area. It will not only provide high quality, affordable accommodation, but breathe new life into the community.

“Supported through our Affordable Housing Supply Programme, it is a great example of how the Scottish Government is helping provide the right homes, in the right places, and to a standard anyone would be proud to call home – a core part of our drive to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country.

“We are committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes over this Parliament – backed by £3 billion of investment. As this project shows, working together with housing associations and others, I am confident that target can be achieved.”

New South Ayrshire school reaches milestone with timber frame in place

The timber frame exterior is now complete as work continues

Plans to transform the education of children and young people with additional support needs in Girvan and South Carrick are now well advanced.

The South Ayrshire Council project to build a new Invergarven School has reached a major milestone, with the timber frame exterior now complete.

Built in 1870, Invergarven is a special school for primary and secondary children and young people with complex additional support needs.

The new £3.7 million facility, which will replace the current building on Henrietta Street, is being built by CBC in the grounds of Girvan Academy, delivering spaces for learning and teaching including a sensory room, life skills kitchen, multi-use hall, hydrotherapy pool and external areas that support outdoor learning.

An artist’s impression of the building

The new school will increase capacity by around a third with 20 children and young people able to be taught at any one time (up from 15 at the old school).

Councillor Peter Henderson, portfolio holder for resources and performance, said the project had now reached an important stage: “With the timber frame shell now in place the new school’s reached its first major milestone, with the contractor now concentrating on making the building wind and watertight.

“There’s still a lot of work to do before the school opens later this year but children, young people and families are already looking forward to using a modern building that will enjoy close ties with neighbouring Girvan Academy.

“We’re committed to making life better for people in South Ayrshire and delivering the best possible education to children and young people. This project is a great example of investing in a rural community and allowing Invergarven to build on its enviable reputation for excellence.”

The new Invergarven School is expected to open in August 2018.

Prestwick assisted living development wins planning approval

Prestwick extra careMcCarthy & Stone has secured planning permission for an assisted living development at Links Road in Prestwick.

Designed by Holmes Miller, the four storey building contains 69 independent living flats with common facilities including dining and kitchen.

Prestwick extra care 3Former children’s cancer home Malcolm Sargent House will be demolished to make way for the development.

The seafront scheme aims to enable residents to remain living in the local community by offering residents additional support and companionship.

Prestwick extra care 2Douglas Jack, the residential lead at Holmes Miller, said: “This is a fabulous site with views west across the Firth of Clyde with the silhouette of Arran in the background, and north and east to the beautiful Prestwick golf course. We have designed an outward facing bookend to the Prestwick seafront, with generous windows and balconies opening to both views.  Great to see the planning permission granted.”

Green light given as new Queen Margaret Academy reaches financial close

Work is now about to get underway to start building the new Queen Margaret Academy

Work is now about to get underway to start building the new Queen Margaret Academy

Plans to build a new Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr are a step closer with the official contracts now signed after reaching financial close.

South Ayrshire Council is now preparing to move on site to get work underway to deliver the new facility.

The £25 million project will provide places for 800 young people, with modern classrooms, interactive ICT, a large games hall, two gyms, two all-weather pitches, and hard games courts. The building will also house Psychological Services and a Supported Learning Centre, which are already based at QMA.

The new Queen Margaret Academy will be built in the grounds of the existing school and is expected to open in October 2019. The current building will be demolished after the new school opens with the site to be fully landscaped.

The main contractor for the project will be Kier Construction.

Councillor Peter Henderson, portfolio holder for resources and performance, at South Ayrshire Council, said the latest announcement was an important milestone: “We’re committed to providing young people with the best possible start in life, and delivering a first-class education goes a long way to helping achieve that.

“By investing in this significant new building we’re creating a base to transform the way young people are taught, with the replacement school a more flexible space in which to deliver lessons.

“The building and facilities will also be available for community use, which will help make the project an important local hub. With initial work due to start in the next few weeks I look forward to seeing this ambitious new project take shape in the months ahead.”

Michael McBrearty, chief executive of delivery partner, hub South West, said: “The new Queen Margaret Academy is hub South West’s fifth educational collaboration with South Ayrshire Council, having recently completed the new Ayr Academy, innovative modernisation at Marr College in Troon, and new primary schools for Dailly and Tarbolton.

“The new academy will provide a wonderfully modern and inclusive community facility that will provide excellent resources and opportunities for the area.

“We look forward to proceeding to site with contractor Kier Construction in the coming weeks.”

Managing director of Kier Construction’s Scotland & north-east England business, Brian McQuade, said: “We’re proud to continue our relationship with South Ayrshire Council and looking forward to delivering an exciting new project which reinforces our position as a UK leader across education.

“We’ll be on site soon to start to deliver this state-of-the-art teaching, sporting and community facility at Queen Margaret Academy, which will help to support future generations.

“As with all of our activity across Scotland, we will encourage the use of locally based suppliers and subcontractors, bringing economic growth in the area and providing employment and training opportunities for the people of Ayrshire.”

Council unveils £68.5m plan to deliver 1,000 affordable homes across South Ayrshire

Affordable housing at Elba Gardens in Ayr

Affordable housing at Elba Gardens in Ayr

South Ayrshire Council is to work with partners to build approximately 1,000 new social houses over the next five years, its latest Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) has revealed.

The ambitious building programme will see around £68.5 million spent from 2017 to 2023.

So far, the council has built 233 quality affordable houses to wide acclaim from tenants and local communities. This high standard is set to continue with more efficient and affordable accommodation appearing across South Ayrshire over the five year period, particularly in the high demand areas of Ayr, Prestwick and Troon.

The council and other Registered Social Landlords will continue to work closely with communities and the Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure affordable housing meets the needs of older people as well as those with learning disabilities, mental health issues and people leaving the care sector.

Other priorities for the new housing investment include exceeding current energy efficiency standards and continuing to help tenants reduce their energy bills. The new environmentally friendly homes will also cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Councillor Philip Saxton, housing and customer services portfolio holder, said: “Our affordable housing build programme has been extremely successful with our largest development at Lochside a shining example. This is not just about bricks and mortar; it’s about building communities and ensuring tenants have bright and spacious homes which can be adapted to their needs.

“We will be working closely with our partners to bring new affordable housing to the priority towns of Ayr, Troon and Prestwick, however new housing is also proposed for Girvan and Maybole and I am keen to see more affordable accommodation in rural areas too.

“This is a challenging target that we have set ourselves and our partners however, I am confident that 1,000 additional affordable homes can be delivered by 2023.”

Visitor hub transformation underway at derelict Ayr stables

An artist's impression of how the new visitor hub will look like next to the existing Belleisle Golf Clubhouse

An artist’s impression of how the new visitor hub will look like next to the existing Belleisle Golf Clubhouse

Work to transform the derelict stables at Ayr’s Belleisle Estate into a vibrant visitor hub is now underway.

The £1.3 million project is set to provide flexible community space, a café, facilities for Park Rangers, and public toilets.

The new building will use reclaimed stone and glass to provide a visual transition between Belleisle House, Belleisle Golf Course, and the outstanding environment of the wider estate. It will be powered by a biomass boiler, with rainwater harvested to help reduce energy consumption and running costs.

The initial phase will see reusable stone sifted from the site for later use as part of the new centre.

The work is part of a wider programme at Belleisle Estate, which has benefited from investment of around £5m in the last three years, which has seen visitor numbers double to 200,000 as a result.

Councillor Peter Henderson, South Ayrshire Council’s portfolio holder for resources and performance, said the latest development would provide a new focal point for visitors: “Belleisle has been transformed in recent years with investment helping to double the number of visitors and improve the Estate’s appeal.

“With progress already seen with the refurbishment of the Conservatory, the creation of the new Golf Clubhouse, and the wider improvements to paths and landscaping, the next stage will see a fantastic new visitor hub created that will maintain the momentum.

“By creating an environment that responds to the needs of our communities and visitors alike we aim to attract even more people to enjoy the estate in future. I look forward to the main construction stage getting underway next year, when the old stable block will be reborn for the next generation.”

The main construction stage of the new building is expected to start March 2018.

Plans submitted for Prestwick care home

Prestwick extra careRetirement home builder McCarthy & Stone is seeking planning permission for a 69-apartment extra care accommodation block in Prestwick.

Under the plans, former children’s cancer home Malcolm Sargent House will be demolished to make way for the development.

Designed by Holmes Miller to cater for the frail elderly, the seafront scheme aims to enable residents to remain living in the local community by offering residents additional support and companionship.

Prestwick extra care 2The application follows a three month consultation with local residents and community representatives earlier this year, including a public exhibition which was attended by 54 people. Of those providing feedback, over half (54%) supported the proposal, while 89% felt more specialist accommodation for elderly people was needed locally.

As a direct result of the consultation McCarthy & Stone made several changes to the application. This includes a more traditional finish, with the predominant material now being cast stone and light coloured render. Some brick will be retained to create feature panels. The north-west corner of the building has been made bolder by adding a raised parapet and wraparound corner feature balconies.

In response to concerns about the proximity of the neighbouring golf course, the layout of the building has been changed from an L to a T shape to safeguard the proposed development and Golf Club from exposure to any errant golf shots. A new landscaped area has been created as a result, increasing the amenity space and visual aesthetics of the development.

Prestwick extra care 3Russ Stewart, development director of McCarthy & Stone in Scotland, said: “We’ve addressed comments raised at the consultation and have made changes to the proposal as a direct result of feedback.

“The proposed development provides a fantastic opportunity for a high quality development, in a highly sustainable location, which will cater for the changing needs of Ayrshire’s elderly population and provide a substantial investment into the local economy. It is pleasing that the proposed Extra Care facility will maintain the historical care use established on site and provide wider social and health benefits to residents and the community.

“We have aimed to make the best use of the site and maximise amenity space, while protecting the neighbouring properties through the positioning of the building, windows and balconies, which ensures there is no direct overlooking of the adjacent townhouses.

“McCarthy & Stone is committed to consulting with the local community and we would like to thank everyone who attended the consultation events and gave us their views.”