Concert hall, swimming pool and hotel at the heart of Ayr’s new leisure complex plans

A proposed Ayr sports and leisure complex could be an ‘example to the world’ with its bold plans for energy self-sufficiency, according to the group behind it.

The plans, revealed by SeeAYR last week, envision a seven-story development, with multiple clusters operating under one overarching management team.

Each floor would be around 28,000 m², including:

  • Regional Football Center
  • Multipurpose arena and galleries for sports and concerts
  • Main pool, paddling pool and paddling pool
  • Diving facilities to replace those at the Citadel
  • Commuter train station with park-and-ride accommodating up to 1,000 vehicles
  • Bus stop
  • Conference and exhibition hall
  • Hotel

One of the more progressive aspects of the plan, they say, would see the solar panels on the sea side of the building supply the energy not only to run the facility, but also to feed the national grid.



SeeAYR said its job was to stimulate discussion about Ayr’s future and admits no numbers are attached to the plans, with a focus on identifying needs and funding opportunities.

In a presentation on Friday, SeeAYR’s John Dunlop, former director of policy and administration for the Scottish Football Association, said: “It’s almost as if the world has forgotten about Ayr.

“The council wants to close the Citadel and replace it with a smaller facility in what would be known in other cities as the central business district.

“There is no empirical evidence that supports a swimming pool built on a main street to increase attendance.

“The site chosen was obviously too small.

“It is uninformed of the needs of current sports or users and removes facilities for twenty Olympic or Commonwealth sports when all research indicates that children should have a choice of sports and not just be forced into them a.”



The SeeAYR Group has been working on its vision for Ayr for three years.

Mr. Dunlop explained how the development and management of the facility would be more cost-effective through shared operational expenses and multiple revenue streams.

Using the sea-side wall for solar panels would also cut costs, he said, adding: “That whole 400m wide wall could power this whole building. What an example that would be for the world.”

The creation of a hotel and a multi-purpose arena would represent a significant portion of the revenue, with indications that a professional ice hockey franchise was ready to make Ayr its home.

Meeting the requirements of Scottish and UK government strategies and policies, such as active travel, health and wellbeing, upgrading and climate change, is also key to accessing funding, he added. .

The plan states that the development would be a catalyst for inward investment, triggering regeneration in one of South Ayrshire’s most ‘challenging’ areas and creating jobs, particularly for young people.

Speaking about the establishment of a regional football centre, Mr Dunlop said: “If built, it would be the fifth of six regional football centers to be built.



A regional football centre, sports halls, swimming pools, an ice rink and a multi-purpose arena on just two of the seven floors of the proposed Newton complex.

“It makes a lot of sense geographically. Costs are shared by being part of a larger center and theoretically the Scottish Government is supporting six football centres.”

A number of five-a-side pitches could be built outside, similar to the Toryglen layout.

Mr Dunlop said: “The idea behind it is a ‘multi-screen cinema’ for sport.”

The site was chosen by SeeAYR, in part, because of its central location within the wider ‘metropolitan area’ of Ayr and Prestwick.

Mr Dunlop said: “It’s not in the best condition. It’s a post-industrial site and is used by dog ​​walkers and that’s it.

“It is no longer maintained by the council. The only rail lines used are the main lines from Ayr to Glasgow. There is no plan in place.

“We envision the wall of the building facing the sea as part of the sea defences.”

He also said that the road infrastructure will be significantly improved from its current state.



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According to the plans, a transit interchange mooted at the Newton development would serve two purposes.

It would replace the small station at Newton-On-Ayr which, together with a new bus station, would provide direct public transport for people visiting the centre.

It would also serve as a park and ride for Glasgow, with far more parking than Ayr station.

Mr Dunlop was keen to point out that this would allow Ayr station to remain the ‘destination’ station for tourists and visitors.

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Corina C. Butler