KILMARNOCK’S ‘iconic’ Foregate multi-storey car park is set to be demolished, following health and safety recommendations.
East Ayrshire Council said that the decision was taken ‘predominately’ because of the health and safety concerns, but also because of the deterioration of the building, the recent low occupancy levels and the ‘considerable’ costs required to restore it.
The local authority agreed to allocate £3.165 million to repair and improve the car park in 2020, however recent investigatory works revealed that the general condition of the building to be ‘much worse’ than previously thought – with any interventions only extending the usability of the building for up to five years.
The council said that the resulting demolition, which councillors agreed should happen ‘as soon as practical’, will open up a ‘highly attractive’ site in the heart of Kilmarnock – presenting a ‘blank canvas’ for future town centre regeneration opportunities.
Councillor Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said, “This is the right decision – health and safety is of paramount importance and we’ve responded promptly to concerns raised by local businesses and to the findings in the new structure reports. This opens up new opportunities for the continued regeneration of our town centre. We are investing in sites all across the town, including St Marnock’s Square and the Cultural Quarter, including Centrestage, the Palace Theatre, Grand Hall and Dick Institute, and now, only a stone’s throw away, we will have one of our prime sites available for redevelopment.
“As ever, we will engage with our communities, including our partners Celebrate Kilmarnock, to scope out options for this site and we can look forward to receiving proposals at a Cabinet meeting in the not too distant future. The money saved by opting for demolition will be reinvested into the £50m pot earmarked for wider town centre regeneration projects including a multi-million pound leisure and wellbeing hub in the heart of our communities.”
As part of the demolition plans, councillors also agreed to the construction of new car parks on land acquired at Grange Street, Sturrock Street and London Road, to ‘remedy’ the loss of spaces within the Foregate multi-storey. The council said that the cost of creating these new facilities is included within the £2.544 million earmarked as part of the demolition costs.