GIRVAN will have a prime leisure facility which will attract people not only from the Girvan area but from all over Scotland and Ireland.
That was the message from South Ayrshire Council officials during a series of drop-in sessions to consult people on the proposals for the replacement of Girvan Swimming Pool.
The sessions included an arts workshop, a sports workshop and an evening for young people where people were asked to contribute their views on the proposals.
Plans revealed so far in the drop-in sessions for the regeneration of the Girvan Harbour area include a six-lane swimming pool, 25 metres in length, along with a restaurant and a “gathering space” which could include a stage, cinema or arts centre.
However, officials say that the planning for the development is at a “very early stage” and most of what is seen just now is a “concept” to take to potential investors.
The actual design work, they insist, will take place in full consultation with the public.
Alec Clark said: “I am very glad to see positive input into the project from the arts and culture perspective and look forward to the input from the sports perspective.
“I understand there were some problems with publicity in this particular consultation and these must be remedied for all future consultations.
“The project is on time and we must make sure the time-scale is adhered to as laid out in the report passed by South Ayrshire Council.
“We are still very optimistic that we will see bricks on the ground by the end of 2012 in what will be the primary leisure centre on the south west coast which will be a boon for the people of Girvan and the surrounding district and the regeneration of the whole area.
“I just hope that there is plenty of opportunity for the the people of the area to put across their viewpoints. Even if people cannot attend particular meetings I am sure that these could be left with community members and can be passed on.
“I will give the benefit of the doubt to South Ayrshire Council. It has been perceived by everyone else as an open public consultation but we must make sure that all future consultations are publicised well in advance.
“People must not feel disenfranchised, nonetheless, we as a community look forward to working with Roddy MacDonald and his team from the council. I am quite sure that the enthusiasm for the project can only get better and better.
“We are sitting with the best site on the whole of the south west coast of Scotland. It is the crossroads of the Irish and Scottish traffic. We have the opportunity to use the volume of traffic we see in a positive manner to make it worthwhile for them to stop here, and we must tap into that potential.
“This is the chance we have and we must grab it with both hands to allow this prime site to be used as one of the prime centres on the south west coast. A centre that is not only attractive for south Carrick but for the regeneration of the whole area through tourism.
“Tourism equates to employment, employment equates to opportunity and opportunity equates to young people not having to leave the district to find work.
“The council is coming from a strong financial base. When it talks to funders it is starting from a basis of strength, they have £4 million and they have £230,000 revenue funding each year. They have a prime site on land owned by the council. They can see the potential which can be delivered within the proposed time-scale.
Gus collins, community engagement manager for SAC, said: “We started with a local strategy group which met with 25-30 people, and had seven or eight meetings. Since the council decision we have recognised that we need more consultation. This work is meant to be mainly about young people.
“There was an online survey with school pupils at Girvan Academy and we are doing a follow up with young people on Tuesday, March 22 and further work with primary school pupils. Once we have the design consultations completed we will do more hands on work with what will become the final design. We will have architects available and sessions where people can see what the final design will be about.
“Just now it is about getting a concept ready for potential investors, they need to know what the development is about and the next stage will be the design. We need to do much more community engagement before that.”
Roddy MacDonald, head of community development at SAC, said: “W are on a journey. This journey has timescales and we are trying to be as inclusive as possible. We want to engage with as many people as possible in south Carrick. The closure of the pool was devastating for the relationship the council had with the public here. We are trying to rebuild that relationship. We are building a facility that is going to be an attraction not just for people in Girvan and south Carrick but for people from all over Scotland and Ireland.
“The council has committed £4 million and we are working with our colleagues in the council and our advisers to secure a minimum of £4 million in external funding. This is the very beginning of the process, we want to engage with a lot of people and these are the first steps.
Gus Collins added: “It is not always the case that we involve local people right at the very beginning but it makes such a difference. We want to exploit the view to the Ailsa Craig, we have a fantastic view to sell Girvan and make it very attractive to funders. We have to sell a concept to get to the point where people will put their money on the table and to do that we have to show them we have a concept.
“We have a six lane pool, we have a gathering space and a restaurant, we have to measure that up and get a price on that and an estimated cost. From here on in it’s about real design and planning about what buildings are going to be successful and now we need to take the funding pitch a bit further.
“Our target date is 2012 to start building and now we will start to get serious about the specifics and engaging with local people. We are going to be doing more design workshops, they will expand on these ideas.
“We will try and roll out the survey that we had with the school pupils to the whole area. But we will use other meetings and events as well. We are going to make use of the Townhouse to open an information point where we can have displays up permanently. We have also kept in touch with the RSPB. We will be having discussions with them in April.”
Comments at the arts and culture consultation also included lots of people saying “yes” for improvements to the bandstand at Stair Park. “Roads” was the overwhelming answer for the question of which other areas of Girvan people would like to see improvements to.