The first step towards the restoration of the fire-ravaged Belleisle House in Ayr has been given the go ahead.

Planning officers have approved, in principle, an application to restore the external walls of the building and create a hotel and function suite within the footprint of the property, along with an extension.

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

It was subsequently taken back into South Ayrshire Council ownership in 2020.

Last November, the council decided to go it alone after efforts to sign up a private sector partner for a £12.5m restoration project failed to get off the ground.

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Instead, it opted to carry out work which would make Belleisle more attractive to buyers, including obtaining planning permissions, at a cost of up to £50,000.

'Planning permission in principle' provides little in the way of detail and a full planning application will be required to progress the plan.

In their report approving the application, planners stated: “There are no objections to the principle of the development, and it is considered that the proposals will go some way to ensuring that the building has a viable future, and safeguard the Belleisle Estate.

“There are no objections to restoring the external walls of the building in stone to match existing, and it is understood that some stone previously removed from the building following the fire can be reused for this purpose.”

Most of the issues relating to the restoration come from guidance from Historic Environment Scotland.

The planning report stated: “Planning authorities are expected to take into account the setting of historic assets.

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“With regard to external walls, every effort should be made to repair the external walls of a historic building and alterations or repairs should protect
its character.

“There may be occasions when a wall needs to be rebuilt for structural reasons. In most cases it is possible to rebuild the wall reusing the bulk of the dismantled original material.

“Dressed stone in particular should be rebuilt in its original position.

“It is important to maintain the proportions, depth and irregularities arising from historic methods of construction in the rebuilt wall.

“New materials should normally match the characteristics of the existing in all respects.

"The opportunity should be taken to restore any details of the wall that have previously been altered.”

Under the terms of the 'planning permission in principle' approval, a full, detailed planning application must be submitted to planner by the end of May 2025.