AYR Town Centre’s shopping facilities need to be located at one end of the high street if it to have a chance at regeneration.
Many feel that the way we shop has changed drastically over the years which has led to the gradual decline of the town as shopping is done online or in major cities.
But Robin Ghosh of E Design Architects has a vision which would see stores located in one area, offices, more offices, restaurants, bars and residential areas filling up empty spaces which have been lying vacant for years.
Speaking at a public meeting he said: “We need to be more clear on our strategy. Our biggest asset isthe beach. We used to have a boat pond, the deck chairs are gone and the putting has not been changed since the 70s.
“Our retail centre is too big. It stretches from Burns Statue Square to the Sandgate. That is too extensive and needs to be reduced.
“The solution is Ayr Central as most shops should be located at that end of the town which means more offices and high quality residential areas can be created at the other end, along with cafes, restaurants and bars, making it attractive for people to come and visit.
“We should eco the flats that are at the harbour. This is an opportunity for a fresh start and to bring back culture but there seems to be a reluctance to to take action of this sort, into the unknown. But we need to change.
“Our town needs to be unique so it can be sustainable. We need to take responsibility now. We have change coming with the completion of the Riverside Block through Ayr Renaissance but these are new builds.
“That should be a last resort when we have so many buildings lying empty which could be restored. Office developments work by themselves but we have got to get people into the towns by getting them to live there.”
Meanwhile the issue was also raised at a meeting of Fort, seafield and Wallacetoun Community Council.
Speaking about the future of Ayr Town Centre , Cllr Bill Grant: “It is not as bad as people make it out to be. It is a town for the community. We need to bring people back. It will never go back to the way it was as the landscape for retail has changed and it is a painful change.
“Woolworths and BHS have not just closed in Ayr but across the UK. Big hotels tend to establish themselves in the outskirts. There is a Travel Lodge and a Premier Inn at the Whitletts Roundabout. Big hotels like this tend to go to city centres but tend to veer towards the edges of town.
There is not a decline, there is simply a realigning and we have the best racecourse north of Manchester."
It is not yet clear how the town centre will develop but it is hoped a resolution can be established with the next council.