Housing bosses have cut back on plans to build 81 houses in Irvine’s Harbourside following a backlash from residents.

The Times can exclusively reveal that North Ayrshire Council have slashed nine units from their original plans – taking the new total number to 72 – after listening to concerns from “a number of people”.

The climb-down comes after the campaign Save Irvine Harbour was launched, along with a petition which gathered almost 1,000 signatures in less than a week.

In a separate poll involving 375 people on social media, however 306 people voted in favour of the development and 69 voted against.

NAC bosses say they have altered proposals “in the spirit of compromise”.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We are always happy to accept petitions and if one is received in this case, it will be considered in due course.

“As part of our extensive consultation exercise – which will continue in the coming months – we have met with a number of people and taken on board their views. As a result, we are in the process of amending our proposals to ensure the development will be sensitive to its unique coastal location.

“Sadly, this means that we are likely to have fewer, much-needed homes for older residents but we have altered the plans in the spirit of compromise.

“We believe that our plans enjoy widespread support from the Irvine community who understand that not only do we need to build more social housing, but these should be in areas where people want to live.”

Business owner Gordon Rennie, who runs GRO Coffee and is spear-heading the Save Irvine Harbour campaign, said the council’s announcement to reduce the number of properties by nine is “not enough”.

He said: “Even if that’s true, the people of Irvine should still come together because we should all be part of the process of deciding on this area’s future. It’s just so important.

“My worry is that the council are doing this to take the steam out of the campaign to get people to give up or not to back us. Regardless of this change, it’s just not enough. We are going full steam with this campaign until we see in black and white that our green space is not being destroyed.

“The people of Irvine have a right to be heard. We don’t believe the people in offices in Cunninghame House should get to shape the future of our most beautiful areas without listening to us.”

But NAC chiefs have urged the public to make sure they are not ‘misinformed’ on the proposals.

A spokesman added: “We are aware that a lot of misinformation has been shared on social media and elsewhere regarding the plans which has been unhelpful and may have given some people a misleading impression about our vision for the area.

“It’s important to recognise that these plans will focus on transforming an unused grassed area and under-used car park opposite the former Magnum site, bringing added vitality and life to the Harbourside as well as benefits to local businesses.

“These new houses – which will see us invest £12.6million in creating fantastic, modern and energy-efficient homes - form one part of wider our ambitions for the Harbourside which will benefit from major regeneration as part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal.”

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