Exciting plans to transform Irvine Harbourside and the Ardeer peninsula into a major visitor destination have taken a significant step forward.

A formal agreement to create the ‘Great Harbour’ was yesterday (Tuesday, August 20) signed between North Ayrshire Council and NPL Group, who are also the Harbour Authority.

Irvine Times:

The landmark Partnership Agreement sets out the terms for how both parties will work to deliver a multi-million pound action plan aimed at unleashing the potential of the stunning coastal setting.

It is hoped that the bold and imaginative plan will bring in tens of thousands extra visitors each year to North Ayrshire, making it a destination of choice for leisure activities, businesses and families to live to work.

As well as transforming the Irvine Harbourside area, the plan will look at creating a sustainable development of the Ardeer peninsula alongside preserving its natural beauty and environment.

The initial proposals include:

· Creating a ‘Maritime Mile’, from Irvine train station to the beach. This will re-invigorate the area by creating a unique coastal experience for visitors and opening up access to the waterfront setting and revitalised harbour

· Working with the Maritime Museum to create a new visitor attraction, showcasing the vessels owned by the museum in a new waterfront setting

· A new future for the former Big Idea building, with work underway to consider commercial opportunities. Plans will also be drawn up to completely re-imagine and re-open the Inventors Bridge which links Irvine Harbourside to the Ardeer Peninsula

· An all-weather barrier free play facility which will be the only one of its kind in the west of Scotland

· Working with private sector partners to consider commercial opportunities that support tourism

The creation of the Great Harbour is one of the first projects which will be delivered through the £251million Ayrshire Growth Deal, bringing economic, social and cultural benefits to both the harbour area and Ayrshire as a whole.

Irvine Times:

Councillor Alex Gallagher, Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “This is the first step towards unlocking the amazing potential of the Great Harbour.

“With the right mix of public and private investment, Irvine Harbourside and the Ardeer Peninsula can be a waterfront destination which not only attracts thousands of domestic visitors but will also have an appeal which goes beyond Scottish shores.

“And as each element of the Great Harbour falls into place, we see it becoming a must-visit destination for residents, visitors and investors.

“This first step has been made possible thanks to funding through Ayrshire Growth Deal – we hope and expect that £14million investment will be the catalyst for further funding to make this vision a reality.

“Now that we have a formal commitment from both us and NPL Group, it’s all systems go.”

As well as owning a significant part of the land at the north side of Irvine Harbourside and Ardeer, NPL Group are also the harbour authority and share a common vision in developing the area as a tourism-related destination of choice.

NPL Group Executive Chairman, Robert McFarlane, said: “I am passionate about delivering a truly special and nationally important waterfront destination at the Great Harbour and Ardeer Peninsula which will create a legacy for generations to come who live and work in Ayrshire.

“We are committed to working in a strong and long-lasting partnership with North Ayrshire Council, stakeholders and the local community and the completion of this agreement today signifies the intent from everyone.

“We do hope that with the Ayrshire Growth Deal now in place, the partnership formed, we can move quickly into the delivery phase. Rest assured that our

commitment does not simply stop at the initial phases outlined today, but as we progress, we hope to be able to deliver commensurate economic benefits across the entire Ardeer Peninsula.”

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, both the Council and NPL Group have agreed to jointly commission and fund a Masterplan for the Great Harbour.

Phase One of the master planning works will consider the key factors required for the Great Harbour to become a successful destination and renowned waterfront location, and explore potential opportunities for the Ardeer Peninsula.

Phase two will advance to more technical and detailed work on the individual components of the plan.