On the day that Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer announced he planned to bring back New Towns, one Youtuber has held up Irvine as an example of what NOT to do.

Just days ago, Edward Burns uploaded a video entitled "Irvine - Scotland's last town planning disaster" to his YouTube channel Ed Explores Scotland.

Described as "Walks in Scotland, with a little Scottish history, some rambling, and a few Scottish pies", his channel covers his travels around the countyry, giving a bit of history for each town.

He has already uploaded videos on Ardeer, South Ayrshire and Kilmarnock.

But his latest looks at the changes made by Irvine Development Corporation over the years - and especially the loss of Irvine's old bridge to make way for the Rivergate Shopping Centre.

He also looks at the abandoned plan to have the Rivergate stretch from the Bridgegate to the Irvine shoreline.

Irvine Times: Sir Keir StarmerSir Keir Starmer (Image: Newsquest)

This week, Sir Keir outlined his vision for a new Britain at the Labour Conference - and among his proposals was to bring back the New Town concept.

He said: "It's time to build 1.5 million new homes across the country... new infrastructure, roads, tunnels and power stations.

"It's a future with more beautiful cities, more prosperous towns, new parks and green spaces... Sometimes the old Labour ideas are right for new times.

"We'll get shovels in the ground, cranes in the sky, and build the next generation of Labour new towns."

Irvine Times: Irvine before the New TownIrvine before the New Town (Image: Contributed)

The New Town idea came from the post war Labour Government and was a bid to relocate populations in poor or bombed-out housing following the Second World War.

Later developments included the expanded towns - existing towns which were substantially expanded to accommodate what was called the "overspill" population from densely populated areas of deprivation.

Designated new towns were removed from local authority control and placed under the supervision of a development corporation. 

New Towns created included Stevenage, Harlow and Milton Kenyes in England - and East Kilbride, Cumbernauld and Livingston in Scotland. These became comedy staples, derided for having dreary custom built settlements and notable for poorly developed buildings and far too many roundabouts.

Then, of course, there was Irvine. 

The Ayrshire town, unlike many of the others, was a long established burgh with a rich tradition. The New Town also encompassed part of Kilwinning.

Irvine Times: The Rivergate CentreThe Rivergate Centre (Image: Newsquest)

In his intro to the new video, Edward writes: "In 1966 Irvine was designated a New Town - the last new Town in Scotland.

"What did becoming a New Town mean for Irvine? Would the old town survive?

"What would be demolished to make way for the futuristic abomination that was to be plonked on the edge of the old High Street and extend all the way down to the harbour?

"Would Irvine become just another Cumbernauld? Irvine's New Town development was thankfully never completed.

"Original plans show that it would have extended from Bridgegate House on the High Street right down to the harbour area. But the buildings - cinema, hotel and office complex - that were to link Bridgegate House with the Rivergate Shopping Centre were never built, and the development never got as far as the railway station.

"Nevertheless, what was built had a huge impact on Irvine.

"The 18th century bridge over the River Irvine - the only route between the old town and the harbour - was demolished in the 1970s, and a long shopping mall built over the river, stretching all the way from close to Bridgegate House to the vast car-park by the railway station.

"But old Irvine survived, even if areas like Fullarton were flattened."

In the video, Edward wanders along Seagate, by the 16th century castle, down the High Street, by Bridgegate House, and into Glasgow Vennel to see where Robert Burns lived and worked for a year or so.

He then follows the course of Hill Street, an ancient medieval byway that "unfortunately" brought him back to Bridgegate House and the entrance to the Rivergate Shopping Centre.

He added: "With old maps and one or two old photos we look at what Irvine lost when it became a New Town, and how the town's fortunes could have been made much worse had the full development been completed."

To view Edward's video, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGXyDmC9OXE&t=500s.