Concert hall, pool and hotel at heart of new Ayr leisure complex plans

A proposed Ayr sports and leisure complex could be an ‘example to the world’ thanks to its bold plans to be energy self sufficient, according to the group behind it.

The plans, revealed by SeeAYR last week, envision a seven-floor development, with multiple groups operating under one overall management team.

Each floor would be approximately 28,000 sqm, incorporating a:

  • regional football center
  • Multi-purpose arena and galleries for sports and concerts
  • Main swimming pool, kids and fun pool
  • Diving facilities to replace those at the Citadel
  • Commuter train station with park and ride for up to 1000 vehicles
  • bus station
  • Conference and exhibition hall
  • hotel

One of the most progressive aspects of the plan, they say, would see solar panels on the seaward side of the building provide the energy to not only run the facility, but feed into the national grid.

SeeAYR have stated that their work has been to stimulate discussion on the future of Ayr and admit that there is no figure attached to the plans, with the focus on identifying the needs and possible avenues of funding.

At a presentation held on Friday, SeeAYR’s John Dunlop, a former director of policy and administration at the Scottish Football Association, said: “It is almost as if the world has forgotten about Ayr.

“The council wish to close the Citadel and replace it with a smaller facility in, what would be known in other towns, the central business district.

“There is no empirical evidence that supports a swimming pool built in a high street to increase footfall.

“The site chosen was patently too small.

“It is uninformed by the need of sports or current users and removes facilities for twenty Olympic or Commonwealth sports when all research says that children should have a choice of sports and not just be forced into one.”

The SeeAYR group have been working on their vision of Ayr for three years.

Mr Dunlop outlined how the development and management of the facility would be more cost effective through shared operational expenses and multiple income streams.

Utilizing the seaward wall for solar panels would also bring costs down, he said, adding: “That whole wall 400m wide could be powering this whole building. What an example that would be to the world.”

The creation of a hotel and multi-purpose arena would be a major part of the income, with indications that a professional ice hockey franchise was primed to make Ayr its home.

Meeting the requirements of Scottish and UK Government strategies and policies, such as active travel, health and wellbeing, leveling up and climate change, is also key to accessing funding, he added.

The plan states that the development would be a catalyst for inward investment, sparking regeneration in one of the most ‘challenging’ areas in South Ayrshire and providing jobs, particularly for young people.

Talking about the creation of a regional football centre, Mr Dunlop said: “If built it would be the fifth of six regional football centers built.

A regional football centre, gym halls, swimming pools, ice rink and multi use arena on just two the seven floors of the proposed Newton complex.

“This geographically makes a lot of sense. Costs are shared by being part of a bigger center and notionally Scottish Government are supportive of six football centres.”

A number of five-a-side pitches could be built outside, similar to the set-up at Toryglen.

Mr Dunlop said: “The thinking behind this is for a ‘multiscreen cinema’ for sport.”

The site was chosen by SeeAYR, in part, because of its central location in the wider Ayr and Prestwick ‘metropolitan area’.

Mr Dunlop said: “It is not in the best condition. It is a post industrial site and is used by dog ​​walkers and that is it.

“It is no longer maintained by the council. The only rail lines used are the main Ayr to Glasgow lines. There is no plan in place.

“We envisage that sea-facing wall of the building becomes part of sea defences.”

He also said that the road infrastructure would be significantly upgraded from its current state.

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A mooted public transport interchange at the Newton development would serve two purposes, according to the plans.

It would replace the small Newton-On-Ayr station which, together with a new bus station, would provide direct public transport for those attending the centre.

It would also act as a park and ride for Glasgow, with significantly more parking spaces than Ayr station.

Mr Dunlop was keen to point out that this would allow for Ayr station to remain the ‘destination’ station for tourists and visitors.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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