Tuesday 31st January, David Bell of Ayr Renaissence

President Harry, David Bell and Ronnie

At Ayr Rotary Club’s recent meeting, the hotly anticipated Ayr Renaissance Managing Director, David Bell gave a fascinating insight to the organisation’s plans. Using a series of slides to illustrate the detail, David stated that Ayr Renaissance has coordinated Ayr’s involvement in the Business Improvement District, Scotland (BIDS) project. The principle outcome of this was the formation of the Ayr Town Centre Steering Group in August 2014. The Town Centre Steering Group comprises individuals who represent retailers, business owners, police Scotland, the Gaiety Theatre, Ayr Renaissance and South Ayrshire Council. The group meets regularly and supports plans and proposals to improve the shopping experience within Ayr. The proposal is to create six listening stations in key historic areas in the town centre, giving a multi-sensory journey back in time. The Town Centre Steering Group acts as a network for local businesses, it has developed a website with a dedicated forum for business interaction and holds regular business engagement events.

David added that the Ayr Townscape Heritage Initiative is administered by Ayr Renaissance and seeks to meet the aims of the THI through the renovation of the priority buildings on New Bridge Street, and by making grant funding available to other owners of buildings within the THI. The renovation of the priority buildings is now largely complete, bringing a significant improvement to the environment at the entrance to the town centre on the New Bridge. In addition, the grant funding has facilitated the re-roofing of Dansarena on Fort Street, and funded numerous complimentary initiatives such as the installation of plaques on the lanes in the town, and self-guided heritage walking tours.

The Ayr Riverside Block Draft Development Framework was of major significance in David’s presentation, confirming it is an important step in the delivery of the Ayr Riverside Block Project, setting out the development principles within which future developments on the site should be progressed. The Ayr Riverside Block consists of the properties at 8 – 48 High Street, Ayr. The majority of these properties are currently vacant, and have been identified as a priority redevelopment project to contribute to the regeneration of the north end of High Street.

Also of importance David continued, is Ayr Renaissance has received Scottish Government and South Ayrshire Council funding for the purchase and refurbishment of the former Clydesdale Bank Building on High Street. The building, on the location of the town’s original Meal Market, has lain vacant for approximately 9 years. It is a listed building in a state of serious disrepair and is on the Buildings at Risk Register. The concept for the refurbishment of the building is for the creation of an indoor/outdoor market and events space on the ground floor with office accommodation on the floors above. It is intended that this project will improve permeability and footfall at this important juncture of Newmarket Street and High Street. The project designs are currently being prepared, with completion of the project anticipated by Summer 2017.

Regarding events, David said in conclusion, the inaugural Tamfest event was a great success in October 2015 and then again in 2016 and planning is well underway for the 2017 event which promises to be even bigger and better. After a series of testing questions from his interested audience, David was thanked by Ronnie Wilson who gave the vote of thanks.