COUNCIL bosses have approved plans for a new £5m leisure centre in Irvine’s Quarry Road.

Around 35 new jobs will be created after North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet last week gave the goahead for the plans as part of the major Vision for Irvine development.

The Times were first broke the story of the Quarry Road development which will see the construction of a full-size 3G football arena and provide what the council describes as “invaluable” leisure space for a number of community groups, including the nearby Irvine Bay Gymnastics Club.

NAC say the pitch would meet the demands for facilities across Ayrshire and have a similar impact to the indoor pitches in Glasgow’s Toryglen.

The pitch’s introduction may be welcome news to the users of the 3G facilities at the soon to be closing Magnum.

The Magnum’s pitch, brought in almost two years ago, led to an increase in visitors at the ageing centre.

The council also insist that the Quarry Road project emerged as a priority for the community through a recent consultation event.

A bid to secure £1m in funding will be lodged with the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund later this month. Sportscotland could also provide funding worth £500,000.

In addition to the Quarry Road development, the council also plan to redevelop the High Street to “compliment” the new leisure centre.

Councillor Marie Burns, Cabinet Member for Economy and Employment, said: “These are really exciting times for Irvine and the proposed development at Quarry Road is further evidence that we are moving forward with our vision for the area.

“The role of the community is massive and we are engaging continuously with them throughout this process.

“It was from the consultation process that redevelopment of Quarry Road was cited as a real priority by the majority of people.

“We want to make our Vision a reality and we’re serious about making big changes to the town.

“Footfall in the Bridgegate has also seen a significant increase thanks to a number of council initiatives.

“We want Irvine be buzzing during the day and night and developments like the one at Quarry Road will certainly help bring that to the town.” But the announcement has not sat well with some residents.

Save the Magnum campaigner Ian Wallace believes the Quarry Road project proves the group were right about their concerns for the new centre.

He insists the only reason the Quarry Road facility has been proposed is due to a lack of facilities at the new leisure centre.

Speaking to the Times this week, Ian said: “For me this is just what we said right at the beginning of the Save the Magnum campaign.

“The centre is too small and wouldn’t cater for everything and now what they’re talking about shows that we’re right.

“They could have refurbished the Magnum rather than build two new centres.

“The parking is going to be a nightmare. What happens when Irvine Meadow are playing? Especially with a big game. Everybody parks in Wilson Avenue and all the cars park near the playing fields.

“I want to make it clear that I’m not against doing up the town centre but other things could have been done rather than build a new leisure centre.

“This goes to prove they were wrong all along, I hope I’m wrong and it all works out but I just think these centres are in the wrong place.”