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The Great Harbour Project

Great Harbour plans begin to take shape

Ambitious plans to transform Irvine Harbourside into a major Scottish visitor destination are poised to move forward.

Proposals have been taking shape to breathe new life into the Great Harbour area and beach park to entice new visitors to the area.

Although still in the early stage of development, the plans aim to create a ‘Maritime Mile’, from Irvine train station to the beach park. This will re-invigorate the area by creating a unique coastal experience for visitors and opening access to the waterfront setting and revitalised harbour.

The proposals would see the creation of three ‘hubs’ on Maritime Mile:

  • Coastal Hub with a major new play facility at the Beach Park and improved outdoor facilities with longer term plans for the landmark Pilot House and a café/restaurant facility
  • Marina/Arts/Events/Food Hub which will feature a new waterfront plaza help to support events and give better access to marina, additional food offerings to make the area even more of a destination for its food offer to visitors, and including the redevelopment of the Harbourmaster’s House, and
  • Maritime Hub which aims to create expanded facilities for the National Maritime Museum

North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet today (Tuesday, May 25) received a report on the progress of the proposals.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “These bold and exciting proposals are still in the development stage but we can see how they are taking shape and the potential benefits they will bring to one of our most scenic locations in North Ayrshire.

“This is about creating a destination which will not only attract new visitors to this part of North Ayrshire, but it’s about creating one which residents can use, enjoy and be proud of.

“As well as building on Irvine’s historical past through the creation of a Maritime Mile, it’s about looking to the future and creating a must-visit tourist destination which will bring massive benefits for years to come and additional visitors to North Ayrshire.

“The creation of a Maritime Mile is just to the first step towards unlocking the amazing potential of the Great Harbour.”

Approval for an Outline Business Case for the Maritime Mile proposals has been indicated by the Scottish Government and Cabinet has approved progressing the creation of a Full Business Case.

The Maritime Mile proposals is supported by funding of £14M through the Ayrshire Growth Deal and it is hoped that this will be the catalyst for further long-term investment in the harbourside area.

As part of this process, the plans will be the subject of public engagement, and this will also inform work to develop a framework for the Great Harbour area which will be presented to the Council’s Planning Committee for approval at a later date.


Issued by:  John Hutcheson


Date: 25 May, 2021

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