North Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Maritime Museum are set to enter into a partnership as part of the £14 million Irvine Great Harbour project.

The proposals include a plan to open up the waterfront as part of the Puffers Café compound and create a new visitor attraction to display the artworks owned by the museum.

They also hope to showcase the vessels owned by the museum in a waterfront setting, provide new berthing facilities and upgrade existing slipways.

The harbourside project, which covers Irvine and Ardeer, is a key part of the Ayrshire Growth Deal, funded by £9 million from the Scottish Government and £5m from North Ayrshire Council.

A report recommending a formal partnership to explore the plans was agreed by the council's cabinet on Tuesday - and the Maritime Museum chiefs are expected to do the same later this week.

The report said said: "The harbourside proposals could potentially include an extension to the Puffers Cafe building to host a new gallery for the museum’s maritime artwork, exhibition and education space, and additional outdoor event and public space to the front of the building adjacent to Harbour Street.

Irvine Times: Puffers Cafe will be central to the plans

"This would extend the visitor attraction to wider and new audiences and provide more facilities for education and community activity, alongside public amenities and tourist information and increase employment opportunities.

"The project will also explore improvements to the existing café including extending the provision into the evening, supporting the local evening economy and activity in the area.

"The Maritime Heritage Hub will be developed as the last phase of the Great Harbour programme, which is anticipated to be on site in mid-2027."

Council leader Marie Burns said: "We have been discussing this project for what seems like a long time, but it is good to see us getting to this because the Maritime Museum is a key partner in terms of work at the harbour.

"Any accommodation we can make for them, I am happy to do that."

Councillor Tony Gurney added: "It is great to have a partnership with such a wonderful local organisation. But I have to ask what would happen if the museum cannot raise sufficient funds for the project to go ahead?"

Council officer Neale McIlvanney replied: "The reason for this paper is to allow the appropriate conditions for the museum to go and raise funds.

"At this time, we cannot proceed to spend funds and fees on design work without knowing whether there's going to be a partner to work with around the wider aspirations of that.

"This allows us to partner with them to explore the viability of the project."

The council's cabinet approved the move unanimously.

The Great Harbour plan hopes to create a unique coastal destination comprising a number of key assets to attract new visitors to the area and create jobs.

The initial investment will deliver the ‘Maritime Mile’ which will drive the Great Harbour transformation.

The Maritime Mile will build on the unique qualities of place, creating a national waterfront destination focused on a series of dynamic event spaces.

These will include heritage, arts, maritime and outdoor active leisure and activity hubs, providing an animated waterfront that connects from town centre to coast, to achieve a regional waterfront destination that will transform the tourism and the visitor potential of Ayrshire and the Clyde Coast.