Ayrshire business bosses said Irvine’s harbourside needs some urgent attention as it continues to attract high numbers of visitors despite being ‘left derelict’.

Sir Tom Hunter said the harbour area was in need of a ‘spruce up’ while speaking to Gro Cafe owner Gordon Rennie on his Go Radio Business show .

Admitting he had never heard of the cafe before a friend invited him, Sir Tom Hunter said: “I went down to Irvine harbour and if you asked me does the world need another coffee shop I’d have said no, and the queues at this old former pub at Irvine Harbour – which to be honest could do with a spruce up – but the queue is out the door”.

Gordon Rennie said: “Even from the beginning people shared your view and I was told this would not work – no one will come here no one well come to this derelict harbourside.

“I can show you the report from the surveyor saying do not buy this old pub, this is a disaster. No one wants it and no one will come here.

“The Harbourside is lying unloved and it is a gem in Scotland. Now with us getting the ball rolling and with Instagram, Glasgow has discovered the beach in Irvine and saw the beautiful sunsets in this rustic harbourside which is laying derelict and must be unique in Britain in terms of its potential – this blank canvas of a Harbourside, thousands of acres, train station to Glasgow, 35-minute drive from Glasgow and it’s stunning.

“You become immune to it as a local and don’t appreciate it but then someone from Florida will arrive and have a coffee and think this is the best thing in the world.

Sir Tom said: “Irvine’s the best thing in the world, that’s a good slogan.

He added: “It’s down where the Big Idea is – the Big Idea which we spent £15million in public money and shut after two years,. That was a great idea.”

Council chiefs previously agreed this year to support further engagement with residents as it further develops its Great Harbour plans – which it’s hoped will also bring the Big Idea building back into some use.

North Ayrshire Council plan to develop its Maritime Mile project, supported by funding of £14million through the Ayrshire Growth Deal. Other proposals include

new waterfront plaza, improvements to pontoons and slipways as well as re-development of the Beach Pavilion.