Revised capital investment proposals give assurances to communities

Earlier this week East Ayrshire Councillors approved a re-profiled Capital Investment Programme over the next five years - putting to rest some of the recent uncertainty surrounding the future of previously approved regeneration and development projects.  

The Council has always endeavoured to deliver the best for the people of East Ayrshire and over the past 15 years has successfully delivered a £1billion capital programme, resulting in the building of new schools, homes, premises, depots and roads infrastructure to support the growth and regeneration of local communities.

The revised proposals presented to Cabinet will ensure that this level of commitment to improve, enhance and regenerate communities can continue, despite the challenges being posed by the recent pandemic, cost of living, inflation, borrowing costs and market pressures.

An initial review of the capital programme was carried out earlier this year to realign projects with the priorities of the Council’s Strategic Plan. The review highlighted some concerns in relation to affordability and viability of projects in terms of timescales, deliverability and changing local demographic needs and officers have since undertaken a more detailed review which has resulted in a refocused investment programme going forward.

Councillors approved a £25m investment programme to extensively refurbish Doon Academy - one of the largest projects within the revised plan, with works scheduled to commence early next year, following engagement with key stakeholders to finalise requirements.  And a further £13.5m has been approved to modernise and refurbish the Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock.

Councillors also gave the green light for a number of other ‘critical’ projects to continue as planned over the next two years, including: construction works at Dunlop Early Childhood Centre; refurbishment of St Sophia’s Primary, Kilmaurs Primary, Stewarton Academy and Galston Office; completion of works at Merlin Park and Kilmarnock bus station; finalising plans for Ayrshire Innovation Park at Moorfield as part of Ayrshire Growth Deal; the marketing of Dunlop Street site for sale and the demolition of the multi-storey car park.

In recognition of the growing demand for Additional Support Needs support within education, provision, Councillors also approved immediate investment plans for Willowbank School, Onthank Primary and Lainshaw Primary.

A spokesperson for East Ayrshire Council said: “These are challenging times and our financial position is undoubtedly the most difficult one yet, but we are still committed to doing the very best we can for our communities.

 “This revised capital programme prioritises where we need to focus our investments across our learning estate; wellbeing, leisure and culture projects; economic growth and local infrastructure, in the short, medium and longer term.  

“By refocusing our capital investments in this way we can be confident that we will be able to continue to deliver sustainable services for our communities – now and into the future.

“Our job is now to ensure that we obtain the absolute maximum value out of the funds that are available to us to see these projects through to completion and this will require innovation, creativity and above all else, an acceptance of change.

“This revised programme represents significant ongoing investment on the part of the Council, but we will continue to explore additional funding opportunities to support these plans wherever possible.”  

Read the full Cabinet Report.