NHS Ayrshire & Arran is to spend £630,000 on buying and maintaining three new homes for medical students.

The new homes are close to University Hospital Crosshouse.

The NHS says that the new residences are needed to support the Scottish Government’s aim of increasing the number of undergraduate medical students in the next two years.

A report to Ayrshire and Arran Health Board this week says that it has negotiated a £9,400 reduction in the cost of each property – down from £187,995 to £178,595.

As well as shelling out more than £535,000 for the homes, at Fardalehill at the western edge of Kilmarnock, the board will also cover the additional cost of fitting each home out and purchasing furniture as well as some of the additional operating costs associated with the location.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran will use £630,000 in 'additional cost of teaching’ grants for the purchase and other costs.

The report said: “To purchase the property at Fardalehill will require operational support in terms of housekeeping, maintenance and utilities, which will incur some additional operational costs due to the off-site location and travel time for staff, domestic rates and factoring cost.

“The Fardalehill houses will boost the provision of student accommodation within close proximity to the University Hospital Crosshouse (UHC).

"In doing so, not only will this provide good quality accommodation but also provide more flexibility for the provision of accommodation within the existing estate where residential accommodation is required to support other initiatives.”

Another housing development, at Laird’s Gate, was also assessed, but it was decided that it was too far from the town centre, bus routes and Crosshouse Hospital itself. and was "not an optimal location to support the needs of the students and colleagues who would be staying there".

In comparison, states the report, the Fardalehill development would be a 10 minute walk to work for the students or staff and would be good for active travel and carbon footprint.

The report concludes: “The purchase of the properties will provide a home for students that is attractive, of high quality and safe.

“By creating the additional capacity for medical students at Fardalehill, this in turn will provide additional flexibility across the remaining residential estate in order to support the wider recruitment programmes.”