Consultations

Response to Councillor Saxton's letter in Ayrshire Post

Councillor Saxton's letter in last week's issue requires an urgent response.

Why do we “serial objectors” keep criticising South Ayrshire Council decisions on such a regular basis? Because we all care about our town's wellbeing. This Council keeps taking us up very expensive blind alleys. This has caused a huge waste of our money, be it the Riverside Block in High Street, Belleisle, the Station Hotel etc. The losses on the High Flats episode could become of gigantic proportions.

Councillor Saxton's letter is couched in such “official speak” that its bulk seems to have been written by an official, at least partially.

The tenants survey was so manipulated and flawed as to make Belarus look democratic. The way that the survey questions were put and the way that interpreted results were collated was shameful. The elderly and, in some cases infirm, tenants were not made aware that the survey was asking whether to demolish or not.
This survey was designed to confirm the post Grenfell position that the Council should take “the perfectly reasonable decision to demolish”. This was despite the Council's own surveys showing that the flats were safe and sound.
We keep going back to this!!

In his letter Councillor Saxton refers to cost not being a factor. Really? Why therefore were the refurbishment costs so inflated, as demonstrated by us, and why were only 90 houses proposed as a replacement? How can it be “a perfectly reasonable decision to demolish and rebuild” causing such social chaos?
On the matter of only 29 requests on the housing list of over 4000 wishing to relocate to the flats, as reported, suggests that the Housing Department was not fulfilling its proper marketing role.
I attended the full Council Meeting in June 2019, when two officials addressed the meeting. Hidden deeply in the 15 minute or so of reading the Report was the simple sentence “Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council did not agree with this”. Had all the Councillors glazed over at this stage or did they not think that the Community Council had several valid points to make and that questions should be asked?

We now urgently ask our Councillors to stop, take a deep breath, and think that a wrong decision may have been made and that an independent review should be arranged before some of the remaining tenants are evicted. Eviction is what will happen if they refuse offers be they Ballantrae, Girvan or Dundonald Eviction is a harsh and emotive word but that is what will happen.

As a footnote, it is reported that 5G telecom equipment is presently being installed on the roof of the flats under the terms of the long lease. Has the cost of the breaking this lease been factored into the equation? This is another question requiring an answer.

Norman McLean FRIAS
Chairman
Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Councillor
Ayr

Ayr seafront consultation

Take part in the public consultation via this link.

Ayr Seafront Development
Consultation Response from Fort Residents' Association


Qu1A
Do you agree with proposals to improve St Germain-en-Laye Gardens?
YES to upgrading and extending bandstand, upgrading existing gardens, low bench wall seating to seafront and fountain restoration.
NO to railings and gated entry points.

Qu1B
Would you suggest other improvements?
FRA agrees with maintaining formal layout of garden from war memorial to fountain but would suggest a relaxation of style from fountain to bandstand allowing more informal seating (perhaps within temporarily marked ‘social circles’).
During ticketed events, fixed seating could be enclosed by moveable 2m opaque fencing with controlled entry and exit points (similar to that used at Women's Golf in Troon).
Bandstand should include large rear screen which can be used in its own right to show livestreamed performances or as an interactive backdrop to staged events.

Qu2A
Do you agree with proposals to improve the green space occupied by the putting green?
YES to improvements to landscaping, picnic area, seating and benches. YES also to proposed pedestrian walkways linking green spaces.

Qu2B
Would you suggest other improvements?
Putting Green is a large enough site to accommodate both picnic/play area and either putting or crazy golf. Ayr Rotary have expressed interest in running this. FRA supports this suggestion as ticket sales will be used to support various local charities.
An area of the picnic/play space should be dog-free fenced area.

Qu3A
Do you agree with proposals for a new seafront building to accommodate a cafe/bar and restaurant?
NO, existing seafront premises currently providing food and drink should be improved and extended.

Qu3B
Would you suggest other seafront facilities?
YES, building currently occupied by Cafe and Indian restaurant should be upgraded and extended into carpark to provide sit-in cafe/fish&chip shop. Toilets should be upgraded and lockers installed with beach hut style frontage.
Kiosk should be replaced with cedar/glazed fronted take-away/sit in/out building selling hot drinks, toasties, beach essentials etc. Designated area for enjoying views either side. 2m high ‘seaglass’ glazed windbreak to rear and sides.
The Horizon forms the third food and drink venue. Hotel should be bought by the council and a large viewing platform with indoor/outdoor space built to 'bridge' Queens Terrace Lane. Ground floor leased to local restaurant owner (car park entrance) with hotel running weddings and events (corner entrance)
On car park immediately in front a large bespoke conservatory would provide space for community events, craft stalls, farmers' markets, Christmas fayres etc. With the use of smart glass rendering glazing opaque, it could be used as additional wedding venue space.

Qu4A
Do you support proposals to generally enhance the seafront area, including changes to improve pedestrian priority to the streets and the Esplanade?
YES though ‘pedestrian priority’ is not explained in the proposal. Does it mean only for residents' access? Only for emergency and cleansing vehicles? Only during busy times?
This proposal should not include Queens Terrace Lane. Queens Terrace residents and B&B guests require vehicle access at all times.

Qu4B
What enhancements would you be supportive of?
Shore Bus; route, Ayr Train Station, Wellington Square, Esplanade, South Harbour Street, Town Centre, Ayr Train Station. Vouchers could be made available on the bus for local shops and restaurants.

It is essential that plans, and budget, include proposals to improve and develop the South Harbour area including Watchful fishing boat, Watchtower and blackboard ‘art’ installation.

This submission is in favour of breathing new life into Ayr Seafront however years of neglect has resulted in deterioration and decay so widespread that the challenge is..where to start? Surely has to be in the planning and execution of essential repairs..no point in shampooing a threadbare carpet.

Ayr Seafront Development
Consultation response from Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council.


We are broadly in agreement with the consultation submitted separately by Fort Residents Association and this submission should be considered in tandem with their response dated 16 December 2020 at 9.14am.

Q1A We are in agreement with FRA

Q1B We agree with FRA.

Q2A We agree with the enhancement of this area but with active facilities. There is space in abundance in the Low Green for picnicing and other passive pursuits.The putting/crazy golf idea being supported and financed by Ayr Rotary should be closely explored.

Q3A We absolutely disagree with the proposal to build a one or two storey restaurant/cafe on the north part of the site. Existing facilities at the Horizon Hotel should be encouraged. This is Common Good land and has serious legal implications in proposing a building.

Q3B We agree with FRA that in terms of the Seafront Brief, a wider consideration from the Ayr India south end to the slipway at the north end, omitting the Low Green should be included. The present remit is not sufficient to address the overall concept of a seafront fit to attract tourists.

The new owners of the Horizon Hotel should be given every encouragement to develop facilities in this area. A one way system using Queens Terrace Lane will simply not work. The present layout with adjustments should be retained.

Q4A We agree with FRA that the term “pedestrian priority” is poorly described and requires clarification needed before comment can be made.

Q4B We agree that a shore bus route, diverting bus routes from Wellington Square to the town, Belleisle and Burns Museum is well within the capabilities of Stagecoach.

We further agree with the final paragraph of the FRA submission.

Norman McLean
Chairman
Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council December 2020

Riverside Place Update

Flaw in flats demolition

Ian Stewart's letter of 25 November raises interesting points in relation to the proposed demolition of the Riverside Place flats and the replacement by 90 new build houses.

Coming from a housing design and construction background, I initially could not fathom out how the figures set out to the Leadership Panel in 27 November 2018 could possibly stand scrutiny.

On investigation and having had detailed consultations with the South Ayrshire Council (SAC) Design Team, it became clear that no Cost Benefit Analysis (as laid out in UK Government's procurement Green Book) was carried out but that an arbitrary 20% Contingency sum was added to the probable cost to cover anticipated increases. There was no “house by house survey” as is standard procedure for re-furbishments, in order to establish the extent of the works. This should have been done in place of the “Essential and Advisable” section so as to give an accurate and realistic assessment of the costs involved. Further investigation of this Section showed a saving in excess of £600,000 in window replacement alone. This, and other inaccuracies were made known to the Councillors.

The justification of demolition based on the Grenfell disaster was not borne out by the SAC subsequent detailed survey of the safety of the flats. This revealed that they were structurally sound, in very good order and were the safest fire risk houses in the SAC housing stock. When re-furbished they would have a lifespan in excess of 30 years, as confirmed to me by the SAC Design Team. The folly of multi storey housing demolition highlighted by 14 of the country’s leading architects was also brought to the attention of Councillors.

The financial viability of the 90 house re-development, which is the maximum number that can be built for less than the re-furbishment, requires a Scottish Government subsidy of £57,000 per house (£5,130,000). This subsidy will achieve 144 houses fewer than exist at the moment. Further financial items unknown at the time of the report and extraordinary to the cost comparison include 5 lifts (£80,000-100,000 each) and the possibility of piling the site, as was done before.

It now falls to all SAC Councillors to challenge and scrutinise this flawed project and reject it before it is too late. I urge constituents to help make this case to them. This decision can be re-addressed and rectified.

Norman McLean FRIAS
Chairman
Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Councillors
Ayr
2 December 2020

Riverside Place Public Consultation

On behalf of South Ayrshire Council to notify you of a public consultation event that will commence on the 14th of august.

The consultation covers the initial and ongoing proposals for a future new housing development at Riverside Place.

The event will take the form of an online consultation which can be viewed at https://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/consultations/ from 14th August - 28th August, and exhibition boards in the windows of the Grain Exchange on the High Street, Ayr from 14th August - 28th August.

The consultation is part of the pre-application design process. No application has been submitted at this time. Further information can be viewed on South Ayrshire Council's website above.

Members wishing to comment on the proposed development are invited to do so in writing ourselves at LMA Architects, 6 New Road, Ayr KA8 8EX or by email to studio@l-m-a.co.uk no later than 28th August, or, using the feedback form on the consultation page of the Council Website. Comments made are not representations to the planning authority, they are feedback that will inform the ongoing design process and proposals.
Download leaflet »

Appropriateness of some monuments and street names in South Ayrshire.

As our Community Council is presently in recess, I have been asked by some members to respond to the above consultation by SAC on the merits of current tangible records of past people of local and national significance.

All of us have good points and not so good points and, I suspect, many national figures who have contributed significantly to the welfare and success of the society that we now enjoy, do not have an entirely unblemished past.

Last year on visiting the town of Hoorn in the Netherlands, which gave its name to Cape Horn, in a small square I came across a statue to a local dignitary whose contribution locally was immense. On closer examination of the information it was revealed that, aware of his earlier shortcomings, the citizens had two plaques added to the monument recognising his great work for the community and his earlier failings. Not only did this give a balanced view to the citizens but gave tourists like me an insight into the man and his times.

Surely this is the way that a modern society conducts its history and recognises it, and not by the forceful elimination of this history but the acknowledgement of it. Leaving nothing but a scar in its place is no solution and further entrenches prejudices By all means,in recognising the failings let us also recognise the tangible achievements of the time, many gratefully erected by public subscription.

Norman McLean
Chairman
Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council
12 June 2020

Accessible Ayr

TGP and Civic Engineers were appointed by South Ayrshire Council to investigate ways that the public realm and accessibility in Ayr Town Centre might be improved, particularly for those choosing to walk or cycle. We are seeking to ensure that moving through the town centre is safe, easy to navigate and pleasant for all. We are also focusing on improving linkages by foot and cycle to North Ayr from the town centre. At present, access to the centre of town is made difficult by the presence of main roads, busy junctions, the railway line and the river. Bridges, underpasses and a core path network go some way in connecting North Ayr to the centre of town, but there is scope for enhancing these connections and the public spaces they occupy.

The link to the project is here:
https://accessibleayrmap.commonplace.is

Riverside Place Flats

To Eileen Howat
CEO SAC

We refer to our Report of 29 January which you passed to your Director of Place to respond. He in turn passed it to Michael Alexander, Housing Lead who replied to me on 20 February copying to you and others. The response of Fort, Seafield & Wallacetown Community Council is as follows:

To Michael Alexander
Service Lead - Housing Services
South Ayrshire Council.

I refer to your email of 20 February which included a copy of your “amended” Note of our meeting on 9 May 2019. This is the only Note correcting the omission of our relevant comments at that meeting. The Note does not however get to the nub of our enquiry.

Our concern regards the emphasis given by your Department to weight the refurbishment costings as is now revealed within those contained in the Essential and Advisable Report (E&A) highlighted in Appendix 1 of the Leadership Panel report of 27 November 2018.

Following upon a successful Appeal against redaction, we now have access to the Report. It has shown that “standard procedures in projects of this kind” are substantially challenged by our expert on procurement as stated in Section 4 of our Report. We find that the E&A Report is flawed in substance and in financial content where it relates to the existing condition of the fabric. This, in addition to our Report, is further exemplified in your response relating to remedial work recently carried out. You state that the £2.6M set out to the Leadership Panel on 27 November 2018 was not totally carried out but that £1.276M only was expended, thus reducing the probable cost by £1.324M on this item alone.

The substance of the specification does not reflect the actual position of the Flats as no “house by house” survey was undertaken and costings included an arbitrary 20% added contingency. In our opinion, it would not stand scrutiny by any external audit body.

We assume that the points raised in our Report to Councillors, that have not been challenged by your response, are agreed.

With combined savings outlined within our Report, this further demonstrates that the probable costs presented to Council show an unrealistic refurbishment cost on which the Council had to make a decision.

Our contention is that this decision to demolish was predetermined. The probable costs sought at the earliest stage from a demolition contractor, an over-elaborate E&A Report on costings combined with a lack of initial consultation with the local community council, as stakeholders, together with the refusal of our Participation Request in such a disgraceful manner indicates the complete lack of community involvement and transparency in this matter. The one sentence refering to our objection contained within your Report to Council of 27 June 2019 does not in any way represent our input into the deliberations or give a balanced judgement. We had to seek meetings with you when realising the gravity of the situation. Our views have been thwarted at almost every turn.

These indicators lead us to the conclusion that this was an Official driven proposal and that the safe and sound multi storey housing stock would always be a source of concern to them. Grenfell was seen as the rectifying opportunity despite the chronic shortage of housing stock. In our view, this Council cannot justify the removal of 234 perfectly sound and popular houses in the current financial and housing climate. Similar Flats in Saltcoats are being refurbished by North Ayrshire Council.

You mention, in your email, that “the Council will continue to fulfil it's obligations to carry out essential repairs”. Our Wallacetown Councillors question this statement when comparing it with the dreadful condition of the low rise housing within the Wallacetown area as recently confirmed by letters to the local Press. This protest now seems to have effected a response from your Department.

At this time of budget restraints and possible cuts, our request to your Council for a Notice of Motion to examine and hopefully reverse the decision is extremely timeous as this decision has and will involve South Ayrshire Council in an unsubstantiated and needless expense at this time of constraint. In the meantime residents feel as if they are being cast to the four winds.

We do not expect you to agree with this summation, but to others copied with this response we urge them to reconsider the situation that can be reversed by stopping the redevelopment of the site and the rehousing of the residents with a realistic refurbishment. This further refurbishment, on a closely monitored basis, can be undertaken block by block by decanting into the properties presently vacant within the site.

Norman McLean DA(Edin) FRIAS
Chairman
Fort Seafield & Wallacetown Community
March 2020

Letter from Michael Alexander dated 20.2.20:
Dear Mr McLean

I write with regards to the Fort, Seafield and Wallacetown Community Council's report received on the high flats at Riverside Place.

I note that the Chief Executive has already responded direct to you in respect of your comments on the decision taken by Council on 27 June 2019. This detailed the Council decisions and resultant required actions which Officers of the Council are now progressing.

In Section 3 of the report, you have indicated that you requested details of the Brief issued to the Design Team, but you have not received this. At the meeting which took place on 9 May 2019 with you and Mr Petrie at Riverside House, which was attended by myself, Pauline Bradley (Service Lead - Professional Design Services) and Steven McGhee and Mark McHenry representatives from LMA Architects, you asked about the Brief. This matter was responded to and details were provided by the Technical Representatives at this meeting. I have included a copy of the note from this meeting, detail relating to the discussion on this matter is outlined under Item 3.

In the second last paragraph of Section 3 in the report, you refer to the work that was carried out in 2019 at a projected cost of £2,600,000 and this money will be wasted if demolition takes place. I feel that it is important to provide an update on this. As outlined in the report to the meeting of South Ayrshire Council on 26 June 2019, a first phase of this work was progressed by the Design Team, and is now complete. The overall expenditure in relation to this phase of work is £1.276 million. Taking account of the decision by Council on 26 June 2019 to demolish the existing blocks and provide new amenity housing on the site, no further work is planned at this time. However, it was outlined in the report to Leadership Panel on 26 November 2019, that the Panel should note that as long as properties at Riverside Place are occupied by tenants, the Council will continue to fulfil its' obligation to carry out essential repairs and undertake the necessary safety and compliance checks. This work will be funded from existing resources.

Yours sincerely

Michael Alexander
Service Lead - Housing Services

Friends of Belleisle have started a petition

To ‘Protect our Common Good Land’ at the Old Racecourse. We need more support.
You can read more and sign the petition here.

Objection to Seafield Golf Course Expansion onto The Old Racecourse

There is an old tobacconist shop at Burns Statue Square, where Alloway Street meets Killoch Place, with ‘T.H. Dalling’ lettered in gold on the frontage. I am sure that those familiar with the area will be aware of its existence - currently wedged between a chip shop and a derelict nightclub.

Mr Dalling - who died before I was born - was a friend and business partner of my grandfather, Donald Henderson. Together they ran Dalling & Henderson Ltd, an Ayrshire enterprise concerned in no small part with the production and distribution of postcards.

When my grandfather died in 2003, our family were amazed to find that not only had the thousands of photographs that he had taken over the years (and transformed into postcards) been kept, they had also been carefully catalogued, making it easy for us therefore to peek into the past.

Among the cornucopia of images, taken all over post-war Scotland, are several of what I am sure were some of the highlights of a trip to Ayr: Belleisle House; Burns Statue Square; The Station Hotel; The Auld Brig to name a few.

I have attached some pictures here if you fancy a look.

What strikes me when I look at these photographs and others, being aware of the current state of these once magnificent places, is how have Ayr's finest assets been allowed to reach the level of dilapidation and ruination that we see today?

It is exasperating taking a trip through our once vibrant town, seeing the depravation and results of mismanagement of funds at almost every turn, only then to read on an almost weekly basis of bold plans for this and secret plans for that, spending money where it is needed least, and eroding any trust there might be in South Ayrshire Council's efficacy.

We all want Ayr to develop and prosper, and yet this cannot be done properly without first respecting and preserving our history and protecting the few things we have left that bring us together. The Old Racecourse, or course, being one such place.

The Old Racecourse is much more than Common Good Land – it is a local treasure, and it belongs not only to our community, but the communities past and those to come. Anyone without a vested interest in its demise knows that it is well used and much loved. It is a place for national tournaments and after-school pick-up games, for goals and tries, for learning how to ride a bike or kick a ball, how to win or lose and shake hands, how to fetch & stay, and for sitting and reflecting on those who have gone before us and encouraging those who are coming after.

The flippancy with which it's worth to the community is being misrepresented, and the manner with which it is being subjugated before our very eyes is not only alarming, but also based on what seem to be sleights of hand and other questionable tactics, for instance:

  • There is a risk that not having a golf academy will adversely affect the number of young people taking up golf. What is the evidence that this risk assessment is based on, and if it is true, on what grounds is it the responsibly of our community to provide land for Scottish Golf’s or AGT's gain? It would also be interesting to know how youth golfer statistics weigh in South Ayrshire Council’s eyes against the wishes of the community they serve and the preservation of public spaces?
  • The holes will be encroaching on football pitches only. The Old Racecourse has multiple uses, as can be evidenced by simply going there and looking at the activities being undertaken on weeknights and weekends.
  • No loss of land to the public. People will still be able to walk on the golf course. A disingenuous notion. Are AGT to provide members of the public with helmets and body armour?
  • This will give every child in South Ayrshire a chance to play golf. This can easily be done without the need to dig up the Old Racecourse. In addition, Seafield Golf Course is located in one the most affluent areas of South Ayrshire, is a stone’s throw from Ayrshire’s only Private School, and is not accessible to those from less affluent areas of South Ayrshire without great effort and expense - in short the plan is not practical, or inclusive, and seems to lean against the encouragement of diversity and equality.
  • Objections are coming from the “same serial objectors that won’t allow us to do anything”. Not only does this statement show contempt for the local residents who give up their free time to try to preserve what we have left, it is also untrue.


The list goes on, and there are members of the community far more learned than me that will be able to put forward a more robust argument, so I simply plead to your common sense and civic pride - leave it be!

Yours Sincerely,
Ian Henderson
Not one of the “same serial objectors”.

The Development of a Golf Academy

South Ayrshire Council Report by Depute Chief Executive and Director »

Read the response letter to South Ayrshire Council from “Friends of Belleisle” »

Read the Ayrshire Golf Trust Business Plan and SAC recommendation Report to the Leadership Panel 17th September 2019 »

Download Appendix 1 reffered to in the report »

Future of High Flats - Riverside Place

Documents regarding the Future of the Riverside Place flats Participation Request can be downloaded below:

Participation Request Council Decision and Response.

Participation Request Norman McLean Response.

John Ballantyne Report.

SEEAYR, A pamphlet by Robert Bennie

Robert Bennie is a child of the fifties, a Glaswegian by birth and Honest Man by upbringing. Robert lived for many years almost within earshot of the Kelvingrove organ and enjoyed the many artistic treasures of City of Glasgow, the world class city archives of the Mitchell Library and the treasures of the Burrell collection. Robert is of course everyman.

Download the pamphlet ‘A visit to Ayr in 2030’ here »

EConstruct and Design — Seafield House

EConstruct and Design purchased Seafield House 3 years ago and no renovations have started. Planning discussions have taken place for development of the house and new houses in the grounds. The Community Council is concerned that the building is falling into more disrepair.

Residents are also concerned who is responsible for maintenance of the wall around the grounds. This affects houses in Arrol Drive and Auchendoon Crescent particularly.

The Community Council understands that the Health Board was responsible for maintenance of the wall but if there is to be sales of housing plots, who is to be responsible? The Community Council has written to the developers asking for an update and clarification.

If any residents have concerns please email us and we shall raise with the developer.

Riverside Community Trust

The new website and facebook page for Riverside Community Trust are now live.

View the website here »

View the facebook page here »

South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership has drafted a new Strategy and Implementation Plan to support adults in South Ayrshire with Mental Health issues.

We have been asked to raise awareness of the draft strategy for people to read, comment on and complete the online survey.

The Strategy has been developed with support and assistance from Health Improvement Scotland and covers the period 2017-22.

The full draft strategy and a summary version can accessed by clicking on this link

The online survey can be access here:
take the survey »

South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership - Draft Learning Disability Strategy for 2017-23

We have been asked to raise awareness of the draft strategy for people to read, comment on and complete the online survey.

The strategy has been designed to ensure that organisations operating in South Ayrshire are able to meet the principles set out in the National Strategy for Learning Disability - “The Keys to Life.” Given this, the Health and Social Care Partnership has agreed local outcomes in keeping with the national approach and an Implementation Plan to deliver against these outcomes.

The full strategy, a summary version and support information and evidence can accessed by clicking on this link

The online survey can be access here:
take the survey »

New Police Scotland Public Consultation Survey. Your View Counts in Ayrshire.
Scotland.police.uk/yourviewcounts

 

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