By Rebecca Tierney and Matthews AKINDELE
The plans for Ayr’s controversial £45million new leisure centre were published last week following a virtual conference and Q&A session – showing a considerably smaller venue than was originally proposed.
South Ayrshire Council had insisted that they could not replace the sports hall in the Citadel – the leisure centre currently serving the people of Ayr – as well as diving and other facilities, as it would be to the detriment of their targets for swimming.
The initial High Street layout for the new centre, which was proposed ahead of the March 2021 consultation, utilised the space that had been given over to the hall. However, the new plans show an overall increase in the swimming area, mainly in the wet changing area.
This reduction means that more space has been allocated to the surrounding area of the building site, which the council says will offer new ‘civic’ space and gardens.
The blurb of the new designs states: “This design will create increased biodiversity and ecological value by returning part of the site to a public garden that links Dalblair Road and Alloway Street. The massing and placement of the building will provide a Civic space or square to meet and gather from Alloway Street.”
The new plan appears to show the old Hourstons of Ayr store as more separate from the centre itself, with a corridor connecting the two.
Regarding the proposals, the council have referred to the “regeneration of Ayr town centre” that the new site will encourage: “Locating it in this way will encourage more people to utilise the complex and will encourage more people to come to the heart of the Town.”
Following the concerns of locals surrounding car accessibility, the new reduced building footprint shows a designation of space to more than 70 car parking and accessible parking spaces.
An official statement from South Ayrshire Council says: “Feedback forms are available to download or hardcopies can be collected at the Citadel. Feedback can be submitted until 1st Nov, and after this time Avison Young Planning Consultants will collate and report on the findings. The public will be able to see the results when the report is included with the formal Planning Application later this year.”