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Sat February 16 2019

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Ayr residents back plan for new leisure centre

31 Jan Consultation on the future of Ayr’s high street has demonstrated public support for a new leisure centre and other initiatives including the conversion of empty shops into homes.

Proposals for the riverside were considered during the consultation
Proposals for the riverside were considered during the consultation

South Ayrshire Council carried out the Ayr Your Views consultation late last year. In total, 2,700 surveys were completed, with 200 people attending drop-in events in Ayr Town Hall.

Members of the public were asked for their views on three proposals — a new leisure facility to replace the Citadel, new public space at the riverside site and more residential properties in the high street.

The majority of those taking part in the survey felt that the Citadel Leisure Centre should be replaced with a modern facility. A third said that, if it were to move closer to the town centre, they would use it more than they do now. Some of the comments received reflected the age of the Citadel, such as 'tired', 'old fashioned' and 'poor condition'. Others felt it was 'too remote', 'out of the way' and not on any bus routes.

The proposal for public space at the riverside site across from the town hall received strong support, with 62% of respondents keen for the creation of space that could be used for events, pop-up markets, exhibitions and performances.

The final part of the consultation focused on the current lack of residential property on the high street. Of those surveyed, 57% supported the idea of converting empty shops and retail space into new homes while 49% also supported a small number of residential units at the riverside site, with 26% unsure.

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Councillor Brian McGinley, economy and culture portfolio holder for South Ayrshire Council, said: "I was really encouraged that nearly half of the responses came from young people under the age of 17 which underlines the importance of working together to protect our town centres for future generations.

"Despite the changing nature of our high streets, it's encouraging that 79% of those filling in the survey still visit Ayr Town Centre to shop. This may change in the future, however a modern leisure facility in the heart of the town, regular events and more people living nearby could mean a thriving town centre for many years to come.

"We will continue to engage with the public and key stakeholders throughout and I am looking forward to seeing more detailed proposals in due course."

The council now intends to draw up an action plan featuring timescales and possible costs.

MPU

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