Irvine's long awaited Marress House early years centre is not expected to open until the spring, council chiefs have revealed.

Work on the £3.82 million nursery - in Irvine's former tax office, opposite North Ayrshire Council's own HQ - began back in May 2021, and the facility was supposed to open in April of last year.

That date was later pushed back to January 2023 when the council revealed the centre was facing "construction issues".

Another delay was then announced, with the opening date pushed back to the start of the new school year in August.

But just five days before it was due to welcome children through the doors, the council admitted that that deadline would also be missed due to "building defects".

At a full North Ayrshire Council meeting just before Christmas, Irvine Conservative councillor Matthew McLean asked for a progress update on the work, and when the long overdue nursery would finally open.

He also urged the council to keep parents and carers updated about the progress.

Irvine Times: How the nusery will look insideHow the nusery will look inside (Image: NAC)

Councillor Tony Gurney, NAC's cabinet member for green environment and economy, replied: “The Marress House early years centre was due to open earlier this year.

"Prior to the expected opening date of the facility, the council was unable to accept handover of the building from the contractor due to a number of outstanding defects.

“Further investigation of these items confirmed that extensive remediation works are required.

“The contractor has accepted responsibility for these defects and has prepared a schedule of works to address them.

“Activity has resumed on-site, and officers are now in receipt of the contractor’s plan to complete the outstanding works, with handover of the building currently anticipated to be during spring 2024.

“A further update to parents was issued this week and we will continue to keep all stakeholders up to date as the work progresses.”

Councillor McLean responded: “Parents have been to the press around issues on communication, that the children who were meant to start earlier this year had been sent to other nurseries and early learning centres on a temporary basis, but still are not being told if they were still going to be there this year. 

“A lot of calls from parents were unanswered and messages not responded to. Why have there been issues around communications? And can you commit to have the local members and service users updated?”

Cllr Gurney added: “I am disappointed that there have been communications issues. We have done our best to keep everyone up to date.

“The nature of renovation works is that we can’t see late issues, but we will try to accommodate that as best we can.

"We will do our best to keep everyone updated and I will ask our officers to review communications procedures to ensure those issues do not recur.”

When it finally opens, the building will accommodate 42 three- to five-year-olds and 21 two- to three-year-olds on the ground level, while a new ELC professional learning facility will be provided on the upper mezzanine floor.

The council’s CCTV concierge service will also be relocated from Fullarton Court to Marress House following the demolition of the area's high-rise flats.