Residents of Ayr got their chance to ask questions about the planned £45 million leisure facility for the town centre.
The virtual conference and Q&A session was hosted by South Ayrshire Council, but those looking for specific answers about the project and its effect on the Citadel, Ayr’s current leisure centre, might have been left disappointed because no questions were allowed on that subject.
Discussions did include site specific aspects, suitability of the location, car parking availability and the proposals for the design and layout.
A consultation during 2018, aptly named ‘Ayr Your Views’, found that just under half of the respondents avoided using the Citadel for a myriad of reasons.
These included the lack of accessibility as it is not on any bus routes, the poor and tired condition of the “old-fashioned” facilities, and “not pleasant to walk to”. This lack of footfall within the leisure centre could be rectified, according to a third of the respondents, if the facilities were to “move closer to the town centre”.
In response to the survey, the council first proposed a new leisure centre for Ayr High Street in April 2019. The early proposal acknowledged the outdated Citadel and need for a replacement by highlighting that a new facility would “increase footfall and extend the active hours of this area of the town centre, allowing more nightlife to thrive and more community activities to take place”.
South Ayrshire Council estimated the design and construction of the new centre would take approximately three years and aimed for an opening in 2023.
In September, a petition signed by more than 600 Ayrshire residents slammed the plans for the new facilities. The petition, set up by objector John Ferguson, had garnered 650 signatures in the first day. The opening statement to the petition cited its objections to the replacement stated: “South Ayrshire Council (SAC) want to build a new £45m leisure centre in Ayr High Street, the cost has already risen from an initial estimate of £40m.
“This is to replace the existing Citadel Leisure Centre which, for a fraction of the cost, requires an upgrade. There are other more pressing needs in Ayr that could do with financial help e.g. north Ayr, Ayr High Street, Ayr Station, etc.”
The online event featured members of the project’s design team and officers from the South Ayrshire Council. Speaking before the event, a spokesperson for the council said: “The architect will present the designs and talk through the development of the proposals.”
These designs will be hosted digitally on the South Ayrshire consultation hub website and are available to view in person from October 21 to November 1 in the ground floor windows of the Hourstons Building and in the reception area of the Citadel.
The purpose of the pre-application consultation was, according to a spokesperson for the council, to “improve the quality of applications, mitigate negative impacts where possible, and address misunderstandings.”
One of the major concerns for residents is parking, which is plentiful and free to use at the Citadel.
A high street employee who wished to remain anonymous said: “Having a new leisure centre is all well and good but most folk drive and the parking in the town centre is extortionate.”
When asked if inaccessible parking would be a deterrent, she said: “Absolutely, the Citadel has lots of free parking – it just needs upgraded.”
In addition to the multipurpose studios, fitness suite, eight-lane competition pool and a health and wellbeing centre, the new leisure centre will have 80 parking spaces and 30 cycle spaces. South Ayrshire Council’s website also highlights there are approximately 2000 parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the new site.AD MORE
To join the virtual event today from 4PM to 7PM please visit: https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/article/35539/New-Ayr-leisure-centre-Pre-application-consultation