Ayr regeneration could bring 10,000 people to town and rake in £300m

An Ayr regeneration project could bring up to an additional 10,000 people into the town centre, according to a new report.

Accessible Ayr aims to transform the town centre by improving infrastructure, transport and access will move on to the drawing up of specific works.

In a report to South Ayrshire Council cabinet, George Hunter, assistant director – communities, stated that the project could result in ‘benefits’ of between £85m to £570m to the town over a 20-year period.

The cabinet heard potential figures for three estimated scenarios , pessimistic, central and optimistic.

The most likely position would see Ayr benefit to the tune of £205m to £300m.

The report also suggested that the plans could increase the number of pedestrians in the town centre from 20,000 a day up to 30,000.

This is the most optimistic estimate, with the worst case outlook seeing a 15 per cent increase, up to 23,000 a day.

The report also suggests that the number of cyclists could rise by up to 600 per cent.

While it talks about benefits in monetary terms, the majority of these are not directly financial.

Rather, they are calculated using a programme that takes non-monetary benefits, such as health improvements, reduced pollution, moving to active travel and journey quality and turns them into equivalent financial benefits.

The work to develop designs is expected to take twelve months, before coming to cabinet for a final decision.

Artists impression of Sandgate as part of Accessible Ayr proposals
(Image: South Ayrshire Council)

The report to cabinet stated: “The proposals around the town centre have, since the projects inception, focused on pedestrian movement.

“The plan is to bring Ayr Town Centre to life with high quality material surfacing, Active Travel infrastructure and sustainable green drainage alternatives that would give the town the uplift it needs and drive investment thus boosting the economic growth of the area and helping the town reach net zero goals.

The main elements of the project are

  • Sandgate – reduced to one lane with increase in pedestrian space and two-way cycle route
  • High Street – increased footway width, reduced carriageway and new cycling infrastructure
  • Burns Statue Square – potential redesign and reallocation of road space around Burns Statue Square and Parkhouse St.
Overview of Accessible Ayr plans
(Image: South Ayrshire Council)

Other plans include

  • Reallocation of Road Space on a street by street basis to allocate more space for pedestrians and cyclist.
  • John Street and Station Road – dual carriageway reduced to one lane either way
  • Miller Road – Widening of carriageway for cycle lane. Removal of seven parking spaces
  • Barns Crescent – potential pedestrian friendly zone with residents only traffic.
  • Alloway Place – reduce carriageway width and creation of two way cycleway and additional footpath.
  • River Street – construct a two way cycleway and footway parallel to the river.

There have been changes to some of plans previously made public. This includes the removal of active travel infrastructure at King Street Roundabout due to design and safety concerns.

Plans for cycling infrastructure on Fort Street have also been removed as the proposal for Sandgate would meet that need.

The report concluded: “Overall, Accessible Ayr is predicted to generate between £205-300 million worth of benefits over the full 20-year appraisal period.

“When considering potential uncertainty, this could fall to between £85-145 million, or even rise to as high as £400-570 million.

“These draft results give an indication of the scale of impact of Accessible Ayr and the scope it has to make Ayr a more desirable place to live, work and visit.”

Council leader Martin Dowey told cabinet that a number of residents and community councils had contacted him with the belief ‘that this is chapter and verse and nothing is going to change’.

“They think that it is a done deal, but that is not the case.”

Councillor Bob Pollock pointed out that the work had been started by the previous administration.

He added that there was a mistaken view among the community that the work was pure about active travel, pointing out that it was about the wider regeneration of the area.

Councillor Ian Davis reiterated the Mr Dowey’s point that ‘nothing is set in stone’.

He said: “A lot of the work that has gone on has been great. There are a lot o positive things to be taken forward.”

He added that there were a ‘couple of specifics that are maybe contentious, but said that would ‘be worked through’.

Councillor Alec Clark asked whether the plans would go to consultation once the designs were drawn up.

Mr Hunter said that there would be consultation and that, once the designs were in place, there would be a ‘list of options’ which cabinet would then decide upon.

The report was approved by cabinet.

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