THE Ayr Advertiser joined with Riverside campaigner Gemma Jones to discuss the future of the site with two South Ayrshire Councillors

After the decision to reject the proposed council offices, the administration called a halt to their involvement in the site, passing the baton onto Ayr Renaissance to take forward. 

Now the council has been warned that the future of the Riverside could be placesd in doubt, with Conservative member Martin Dowey telling the Advertiser of his worry that this could leave the site in limbo, with revenue generating offices being built elsewhere. 

After the plans, to build offices were thrown out, there are fears the site will be abandoned and offices, which would generate income, developed elsewhere.

In the discussions with the Advertiser, it was reiterated that there was still an appetite for office space within a development including a community centre, tourist information and an exhibition of Ayr’s history on the east end of the site took place last week.

Other ideas include greenspace, an augmented reality trail an amphitheatre to allow bands to perform or an outdoor cinema to be set up. 

The west end of site would include a history centre with a glass floor to see the remains of 18th and 19th century buildings discovered or steps leading underground.

Another suggestion was for shipping containers situated close by to allow artists and entrepreneurs to establish themselves before moving to one of the empty units on the High Street.

There would also be access to the river with cafes, bars and restaurants for locals and visitors to enjoy. 

Councillor Martin Dowey said: “We don’t want to turn our back on Ayr’s Riverside but this could be the way things are going. 

“I stay in Ayr, it is my home and I want the best for Ayr and South Ayrshire. This is a unique opportunity to do something positive and we are going to lose it.

“We are all going to get the blame for leaving a hole in the ground. We all need to get involved. We need to think positive for Ayr and we need to get something done.

“We need to highlight the history of the town. The hangman’s cross was where the former Malt Cross used to sit which so many locals don’t realise.

“We need everyone to join force so this can be done right. This is a great space which needs to be used. We can’t just cover it up with buildings.

“We have been waiting for 40 years for someone to come and help up. But noone is coming because there is nothing here for them. 

“We need a communal building, develop tourism, pop up shops and engage with the river.”

Gemma Jones added: “This is an opportunity to shape our town. We used to live in a tourist town but that has been lost.

“We need to bring that back. When Pokemon Go came out a couple of summers ago people became interested in their history. They found Pokemon in their historic areas. 

“There needs to be a consultation, with these designs to see what people want and get them to shape their town. 

“They might add ideas or take away ones. As long as every single member of the community is given the opportunity to have their say.”

Cllr Peter Convery said: “From my point of view they need to make a decision sooner rather than later. The real problem is how long it will take.

“This is one of the most important sites in Ayr. This started in 2002 when Ayr failed to get city status. Had we been awarded that we would have been awarded money.

“But because we weren’t the town started to go down hill. We really thought we would get the money and it was a shock when we didn’t. I think we should try again.”

The decision for the council not to invest in the Riverside has been ‘called-in’ by members of the local conservative group and discussed at the Audit and Governance Panel next week. This means the council could be forced to invest in the site after all. 

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