South Ayrshire Council has decided to ditch immediate plans to sign up a ‘partner’ to restore Belleisle House, following its failed tender process.

It will consider other potential uses as well as the ‘preferred’ option to restore the listed building as a hotel.

The council will now consider options to make fire ravaged Belleisle ‘more attractive to the market’ or to obtain planning permission for specific future use.

One councillor described the Belleisle situation as a ‘perfect storm’ as Covid and other factors impacted the hospitality sector.

Councillors on SAC’s Leadership Panel heard that no partner was found for its original joint venture proposals that was set to cost at least £12.5m.

After considering options, including a retender and a direct approach to potential developers, the council agreed to go forward with just two.

One option would see the council  pay out up to £30,000 to prepare a business case and undertake work on the building to make it ‘more attractive to market’.

The other more costly option would see up to £50,000 spent by the council to obtaining planning permissions to develop the building and then put it up for sale with set conditions.

Councillor Chris Cullen questioned whether the council could look at alternative uses to a hotel, adding: “Are we limited in how we market the building for future use?”

Mr Yuille responded: “The only limits are the requirements needed for planning consent. Planning would prefer it returned as a hotel as it was before.”

However, he suggested that the difficulty in finding someone to develop it as a hotel meant that there was an ‘opportunity’ to look at alternative uses and agreed to put together potential options.

The B-Listed building in Ayr went up in flames in 2019 after a worker’s blowtorch set fire to the roof.

The council’s initial plan had envisaged a hotel/function venue with up to 20 rooms and 200-capacity function space at the cost of around £12.5 million. It was this price tag that led them to seek a joint venture approach.

Councillor Ian Cochrane said: “The hotel has a bit of an unhappy history and it appears we have encountered the perfect storm in terms of how Covid impacted hotel industry and tourism in general.”