Ambitious heritage plans put together by a Prestwick community group will go out to public consultation.

South Ayrshire Council’s cabinet agreed to undertake a consultation on proposals that have been put together for the town by the Prestwick Civic Pride (PCP) group.

But there was some debate around the funding of one part of the proposals – the reinstatement of the steeple at the Freeman’s Hall on Kirk Street.

Independent councillor Bob Shields asked for confirmation of the funding for the project.

Council leader Martin Dowey said: “Certainly there was £2m funding in the capital award for Prestwick heritage. My understanding is that it is for Freeman’s Hall and the steeple, notwithstanding the need to do a consultation.”

But chief executive Mike Newall pointed out that while there was a ‘very strong possibility’ of the project getting approval at a later date, the money was not allocated to the Freeman’s Hall at this stage.

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He said: “The budget book that was approved in February does confirm that there’s £2m for heritage and regeneration works for Prestwick, but it is not prescriptive about the specific project of the spire.

“That would be subject to public consultation, and thereafter approval by council at a future date.

“This paper is recommending we go through a public consultation process to enable the very strong possibility of getting full council approval of that particular project in the near future.

“I would imagine that these proposals that have been prepared and commissioned by PCP are very detailed and will allow members of the public see exactly what is being proposed.

“There is no specific funding allocated to the Freeman’s Hall spire.”

After the meeting, independent Prestwick councillor Hugh Hunter, who has been one of the drivers of the PCP’s plans, welcomed the progress.


Councillor Hugh Hunter (Independent, Prestwick)

Councillor Hugh Hunter (Independent, Prestwick)


He said: “The heritage proposals for the Freeman’s Hall and replacement steeple are incredibly exciting.

“Bringing the hall back into use as Prestwick’s civic centre is something the town has needed since the other civic buildings were sold off by previous administrations.

“The council leader confirmed at full council that the capital funding earmarked for Prestwick was intended to be used for the Freeman’s Hall proposals.

“Having a health and well-being hub based in at the Freeman’s Hall, and having the old customer services centre open every day of the week instead of only one day, is amazing.

“I encourage everyone to take part in this important consultation. Every response counts, so make your support known.”

Councillor Martin Kilbride (Conservative, Prestwick) lauded the work of the Prestwick group.

He said: “A lot of work has been done over the last 18 months, bringing these proposals to us. They are not just ideas or visions. It is a detailed plan.”


Councillor Martin Kilbride (Conservative, Prestwick)

Councillor Martin Kilbride (Conservative, Prestwick)


Cllr Dowey added: “Certainly the work that’s been carried out by the group, Prestwick Community Pride, is far reaching and certainly has my full support and I’m sure it has got cabinet’s full support.”

The PCP group have developed plans for  a heritage trail, the reinstatement of a steeple at Freeman’s Hall together with proposed changes of use of the hall and adjacent cottages, conservation of the Salt Pans Houses in association with St Nicholas Golf Club; and improvements to the Prestwick seafront.

The council is clear that, as the PCP group didn’t follow statutory processes to develop the proposals, it would not be able to endorse the plans or commit funding despite pushing forward with the consultation.

PCP have also commissioned a feasibility study for the seafront and promenade enhancements of Prestwick.

The proposals involve options for redevelopment of the former bathing lake, improvements to promenade gateways at Links Road, Burgh Road and Grangemuir Road, proposals to improve paths, walls, signage and street furniture, and an arts strategy.

The cabinet approved the report and will hear feedback from the consultation prior to the summer recess.