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Council confirm exciting Lochshore regen plans

Posted on 20 Nov 2020

WORK on the construction of the Garnock Visitor and Community Hub  - part of a  major regeneration project at Lochshore which will have a significant economic and environment impact – will begin next Spring.

Lochshore has been earmarked as a key site in the Council’s Community Wealth Building plans – and the Council is delighted to be delivering a project that feeds into their wide-ranging vision.

North Ayrshire Council confirmed the exciting plans at a meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday after securing the necessary £3.6 million funding for construction of the Visitor and Community Hub.

This includes contributions from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Scottish Enterprise, Sport Scotland and Land Trust.

 The first phase of the wider site development will also begin next year and it is hoped that the new Visitor and Community Hub to the south of the loch will will act as a facilitator of increased activity at the site. It is expected be ready and open by May 2022.

At the meeting, the Council also confirmed it will also take ownership of the wider site– currently  owned by Scottish Enterprise – and use already-available monies from Scottish Government’s Vacant and Derelict Land fund to create paths and play areas, as well as tree planting and habitat improvements.

Leisure and walking routes are planned around Kilbirnie Loch, incorporating heritage interpretation and play. While access to the site will be enhanced through new active travel routes connecting to and through the site to Kilbirnie, Beith, Garnock Community Campus and Glengarnock station. The first of which (a direct connection to Kilbirnie) will be constructed in 2021 with funding awarded by Sustrans.

It is hoped that around 100 jobs could be created directly and indirectly as a result of investment in the site.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council and Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building said: “We are excited to be confirming details of our plans for Lochshore. It allows us to put our Community Wealth Building vision into practice.

 “We are using our land and assets to build something substantial for the community. At Lochshore there will be the opportunity for the community to take ownership of or lease parts of the site, for initiatives such as community food growing or community woodland. There is also the potential for community- led delivery of affordable housing through the establishment of a community land trust.

 “We are also creating jobs. We expect around 12 to be employed in the hub and we will again use our Community Wealth Building principles during construction phase which will  create jobs for local people.

 “We are also working with one of our anchor organisations – Scottish Enterprise – to secure the land that will allow us to think big with our plans.

 “There is also the positive knock-on effect for the wider community as we move forward with the long-term vision.”

 David Wallace, Stakeholder Lead for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in Scotland said, “This is such an exciting project to be involved with.  What impressed us was its links to any future industrial development that helps build a sustainable future for local communities long after Hunterston A site has closed. It’s also a great example of true partnership working, and the ability of the local council to leverage funding from a wide range of sources for the benefit of local people.”

Mark Newlands, Head of Partnerships at Scottish Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to be working on the Lochshore project which will create some exciting opportunities for the local area and demonstrate a wider commitment to Community Wealth Building.”

The Visitor and Community Hub, associated pathways and play areas, and tree planting and habitat creation will make up the first phase of the development. It is anticipated that the Hub building could attract up to 145,000 visitors per annum by the third year of operation.

 Lochshore will also benefit from marketing as a key attraction within the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and act as a destination hub for The Coig, allowing Lochshore to benefit from partnership promotion.

 The Council also hope to use ring-fenced funding from their ‘New Green Deal’ to plant hundreds of new trees on site during the first phase.