PLANS to demolish the vacant maternity buildings at Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine have been approved - bringing proposals for new housing on the site one step closer.

The buildings, on Kilwinning Road, have been closed for normal business for more than a decade.

North Ayrshire Council (NAC) bought the site from the NHS as surplus land in March 2021.

The purchase of the land forms a key element of NAC's ongoing plan to build 1,625 homes across the council area by 2027.

It is intended that the buildings will be torn down to make way for a 202-home development which would include one, two three and four-bedroomed properties.

Draft plans for the development have been drawn up already, and a public consultation on the proposals closed at the end of October.

An official application for planning permission is yet to be lodged, but will most likely shortly follow the approval of the demolition plans.

The maternity residences, which have often been the target of vandals, are listed buildings, so could not be demolished without permission being granted.

The buildings were considered beyond repair, so could not be maintained for any development.

A structural appraisal was conducted by Clancy Consulting Ltd on behalf of the council and was referenced, alongside Police Scotland photographs, in their demolition statement.

It said: "It is considered the building to be in a generally poor condition, with structural damage noted externally from the Clancy Consulting Ltd inspection, and also internally from recent photographs taken by Police Scotland.

"The structural integrity of the building is further threatened by the continual and extensive vandalism and fire-raising activities being undertaken in the building. This will definitely have weakened the structure further.

"Given the continual deterioration of the building structure as a result of the exposure to the elements, the repeated unauthorised access, vandalism, and fire-raising, we would recommend that consideration be given to demolishing the building on health and safety grounds."

However, the Scottish Civic Trust criticised 'missing parts' of the application.

In part of a lengthy complaint, they said: "The structural report is, to say the least, superficial.

"It has clearly not been prepared by a conservation professional used to dealing with the problems and possibilities of historic buildings.

"Moreover, it seems that the site is intended to remain in residential use, potentially making the future of the building easier to achieve than if a change of use was in mind."

The application was approved today, Monday December 12, though there is no indication of when demolition work might start.

It has been previously stated that NAC intends construction to start in the spring of next year.

You can view the application in full by visiting the council's online planning portal and serching for reference 22/00558/LBC.