Tourist transformation plans unveiled for Irvine’s Harbourside

North Ayrshire Council has unveiled proposals to transform Irvine’s Harbourside into a tourist attraction which could potentially attract more than 100,000 extra visitors per year.

To be put forward next week one of the council’s key Ayrshire Growth Deal projects, the ‘Great Harbour’ will include refurbishment of the Big Idea events venue and repairs to the Inventors Bridge to provide access.

Tourist transformation plans unveiled for Irvine’s Harbourside

Under the plans, a ‘Maritime Mile’ will be created from the train station bridge to wooden wharf next to the Irvine Watersports Club to provide new berthing facilities and upgrade existing slipways.

The council will also work with the Maritime Museum to create a new visitor attraction, showcasing the vessels owned by the museum in a new waterfront setting.

A harbourside hotel and restaurant will also be created alongside waterfront housing as a complementary addition to the planned social housing and an all-weather barrier free play facility.

The proposals featured within the Ayrshire Growth Deal and at least £14 million has been allocated for development of the Harbourside and Ardeer Peninsula.

The council is looking to focus on the works at the Harbourside first – creating a globally-renowned waterfront location - which would support the second stage of development at the Ardeer peninsula. As well as a road bridge and other road infrastructure, plans for Ardeer include a holiday resort and an industrial hub for major industrial and engineering processes.

Councillors will learn on Tuesday that the plans involve a partnership with NPL Estates – the owners of much of the land at the Ardeer Peninsula – to help deliver the best possible projects.

As well as owning the land, NPL Estates is also the harbour authority and share a common vision in developing the Irvine side of the harbour as a tourism-related destination of choice.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economy, said: “This is a tremendous long-term plan and a huge investment in Irvine Harbourside. And the Harbourside is the key to further developments on the Ardeer Peninsula.

“We will be working very closely with our partners, NPL Estates. If we are successful in unlocking the potential of the Harbourside we can then go on to fully realise the enormous possibilities inherent in the Ardeer Peninsula.

“There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks – much of it wildly inaccurate – about plans for the Harbourside.  It is good now to put some of our plans into the public domain, so we can all look forward to what are some really exciting proposals.

“Irvine Harbourside has huge potential given the combination of its natural location, some of the most superb coastal views in Scotland, proximity to Glasgow and the central belt. The Harbourside already has established maritime presence, with plenty of space to expand.

“With the right mix of public and private investment, Irvine Harbourside should be a waterfront destination to not only attract a significant increase in the number of domestic visitors but also should have global appeal. We will progress with the plans and will keep everyone updated as we move forward.”

The council and NPL Estates will now carry out further research to help produce a masterplan before moving on to more detailed work on the individual components of the plans.

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