COUNCILLORS have overturned a decision to refuse planning permission for a fresh milk vending business in Dreghorn.

Proposals were submitted at the beginning of the year for the change of use of the vacant Jarvie Plant unit on Corsehill Mount Road into a retail outlet.

Applicant Graham Owens, who owns local firm Go Vending, had hoped to diversify his business by collaborating with a local farmer to deliver farm fresh milk through vending machines at the site.

In a supporting statement lodged with the plans, which were turned down in May, Mr Owens said: "We want to build a brand around this concept by also offering milkshakes, home baking as well as a selection of typical vending machine snacks/refreshments and coffee.

"We hope to enhance the area by offering a unique retail experience providing healthy options to customers."

North Ayrshire Council (NAC) planning chiefs initially threw out the bid as they deemed it to be contrary to the town centre first approach of the council's local development plan.

It was considered that there was a "limited number of surrounding businesses within walking distance to the application site to justify the need for a retail use in this location", and it was stated that the business would be more appropriately located within Irvine town centre or Dreghorn's Main Street.

However, at a meeting of NAC's Local Review Body (LRB) on Monday (October 24), councillors reversed the decision and agreed to approve the plans.

Outlining his intention to work with Brian Young, from New Cumnock-based Lochhill Dairy Co and who started a similar business venture during lockdown, Mr Owens told the meeting: "We believe we've got a very special project here for both Irvine and North Ayrshire.

"It's a family-based, healthy, environmental project that we're very passionate about.

"This will be a success, for us and for Irvine, but we cannot find the right premises outside of [Jarvie Plant]."

The development site, which has been "derelict for a long time", will be restored and the Mr Owens said he hopes to expand the business further in future.

Councillor Timothy Billings, chair of the LRB, said: "We consider that this is a unique concept and from what we've heard here today we agree that it is something that would not work in the town centre and would not take away from the activities of the town centre because of the differences that this has."

Following the decision, Go Vending Scotland posted on Facebook: "Thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged us to steam ahead.

"Watch this space, something very special is coming to Irvine!"