PLANS to transform the Harbourside area of Irvine have taken a significant step forward.

North Ayrshire councillors approved their masterplan for the ‘Great Harbour’ proposals at a meeting of the authority's cabinet on Tuesday.

The plan sets out the vision for how the area can be developed and improved using £14 million of Ayrshire Growth Deal funding as the catalyst.

The plan has been through consultation with the local community and stakeholders and those discussions helped shape the final document.

The Great Harbour is a key part of the £251m Ayrshire Growth Deal and is one of the most ambitious and transformational regeneration tourism proposals for the region.

Central to the Great Harbour plan is the ‘Maritime Mile’ – the route from the Irvine train station to Irvine Beach Park – where the aim is to transform the area into a national waterfront destination.

Phase one of the project will see the creation of a Coastal Hub which includes a major new play facility at the Beach Park, access improvements and with plans at a later stage to redevelop the Beach Pavilion building to provide improved public amenities, and a café/restaurant at first floor level with views across the Outer Clyde to Arran.

Irvine Times: Plans for Irvine's 'Great Harbour'

This first phase will also include improvements to the historic Pilot House, including a new landscaped park setting that reflects the coastal location and celebrates the heritage of Irvine Harbour. Work is anticipated to start on site in late 2024.

Following the first phase, work will begin on a marine, arts, events and food hub which will feature a new waterfront space helping to support events, improved access to marine facilities, and the redevelopment of the harbour master’s office.

The third phase involves creating a maritime heritage hub.

This will see the council work in partnership with the Scottish Maritime Museum and Crown Estate Scotland to enhance and expand existing facilities around the Harbourside, including the Puffers Café area.

It is hoped that this will increase visitors and encourage increased participation in maritime heritage in the area.

Councillor Tony Gurney, NAC's cabinet member for green environment and economy, said: “We spent a great deal of time engaging with residents and stakeholders to get their views on these ambitious plans for the Harbourside.

"The consultation was very important and a number of changes were made as a result of feedback from our discussions and meetings with the public.

“We want to create something that residents can enjoy and be proud of – we’re sure they will be and we hope our masterplan for the area reflects that.

“This is an important milestone for this Ayrshire Growth Deal project and we are looking forward to work commencing on the first phase at the Beach Park in 2024.”

At the cabinet meeting, council leader Marie Burns said: “When you consider the hoops we have to jump through in terms of both governments, it is really good to get to this point.

"Consultations have  given priority to the coastal hub and the removal of development where the car parking is as a result of response from the views given by the public.”

Councillor Christina Larsen, cabinet member for finance, said: “How exciting it is to get to this point. This will be a great plane for the whole  of North Ayrshire when the plans come to fruition.”

The funding comprises £9m from the Scottish Government and £5m from North Ayrshire Council.

The masterplan and feedback from consultation can be found at