East Ayrshire council adds backing to ambitious plans for important Kilmarnock site.

Dylan Macdonaldblog

A landmark regeneration plan that could create around 1,000 permanent new jobs on the site of the former Diageo bottling plant in Kilmarnock was today (28th Sept) given the backing of East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet.

The ambitious “HALO” Urban Park project, spearheaded by Kilmarnock-based developers Klin Group, will be mainly funded by the private sector but has already secured financial backing from the site’s owners, Diageo, who have pledged £2m to support the proposed regeneration and to donate the 23 acres of land, subject to the project meeting certain economic and community benefit goals and securing financial backing from central government.  Today, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet also approved £2m of support for the project.

East Ayrshire Council will now seek a further £10m financial support for the scheme from the Scottish and UK Governments through the Ayrshire Growth Deal. The Halo project is one of a number of economic regeneration projects the Council is putting forward, alongside North and South Ayrshire Councils, for funding totaling £359m through the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

Marie Macklin, Chair of Klin Group, said: “Kilmarnock deserves the very best for this iconic site and that is what we are setting out to deliver. We listened carefully to what the people of the town had to say and the HALO Project will provide a fitting and sustainable legacy for the Hill Street site that will last for generations of Kilmarnock residents to come.”

David Cutter, President of Global Supply & Procurement, Diageo plc said: “We are delighted to partner with East Ayrshire Council to support this regeneration proposal for Kilmarnock. Our ambition has always been to see this site redeveloped to the benefit of the local economy and community.

“Alongside the new college campus which is due to open soon at the site, we believe this regeneration plan will create a positive legacy for Kilmarnock and we hope it will gain the necessary support from the Ayrshire Growth Deal to make it a reality.”

Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “These proposals are a key element of East Ayrshire Council’s ambitions for the Ayrshire Growth Deal and will greatly contribute to the regeneration of Kilmarnock, breathing new life into the remainder of site previously occupied by the Johnnie Walker bottling plant.

Today’s news represents a major step forward for the project’s champions, Kilmarnock-based Klin Group, who were the original visionaries for the Hill Street site and who secured an option to develop the site from Diageo. Since then, wide community consultation has taken place alongside other research locally, nationally and internationally. The result is an imaginative, brown field regeneration scheme that is set to revitalise Kilmarnock and boost the wider economy of Ayrshire.

The proposal is for an Urban Park that will create a commercial, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter for Kilmarnock.  Plans include:

  • A Resilience Capability Business Centre for digital and online resilience businesses in research, development and application, locating innovators in financial services, private investors, insurance and technology companies
  • An enterprise, engineering, manufacturing and textiles centre for small and medium sized businesses
  • 1,000 capacity education, conference and exhibition centre (benefiting local schools, colleges and universities)
  • A cultural hub for small creative businesses and social enterprises in crafts, film, art, music, media, literature, marketing and technology
  • A year-round leisure and water sports facility
  • 3,000m2 of commercial offices
  • Health & wellbeing premises, life-style shops and cafes
  • Landscaped public plaza
  • 175 affordable rented houses
  • An energy centre powering a district heating system
  • Public space including new road and footpath networks connecting to the Rail Station and town centre

The HALO proposal will be a phased development that will:

  • Create around 1,000 sustainable jobs
  • Enhance Kilmarnock’s appeal as a destination for commerce, leisure and learning
  • Strengthen the resilience of Kilmarnock town centre
  • Capitalise on the site’s rail and motorway links
  • Complement and add value to the adjoining, newly built Ayrshire College
  • Contribute to the wider economic growth of Ayrshire