Irvine Bay comprises of 22km of coastline and includes the towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston, Kilwinning, and Irvine. The area has a proud history of tourism and industry, including coal mining, ship building and chemical works. However, industrial decline in the late Twentieth Century has presented considerable challenges to the area and its population, including unemployment, social exclusion and deprivation. Industrial decline has also resulted in significant areas of vacant and derelict land, and much of the area’s open space is under used and neglected.
In 2005, North Ayrshire Council commissioned an economic analysis of the Irvine Bay area to identify the current economic and physical issues and to develop a strategy for urban renewal. The recommendations of the report set out a vision for the area and explored options for their delivery. After a full appraisal of available options, the report concluded that an Urban Regeneration Company (URC) would be the preferred delivery vehicle to facilitate the level of transformational change required and to act as a catalyst for stimulating investment and starting the process of economic recovery.
In October 2006, Irvine Bay Regeneration Company opened for business. The principle role of the URC is the physical transformation of the area. Through this, and by creating the conditions for sustainable private sector investment, it will facilitate the process of economic recovery leading to increased employment prospects for residents and a turnaround in the fortunes of the area.
Working in partnership with the FCS, RSBP and Greenspace Scotland, Irvine Bay Regeneration Company sought to develop a framework for the delivery of green network projects. In 2010, it received a £20,000 grant from the CSGN Development Fund for the creation of an Irvine Bay Green Network Strategic Action Plan. It commissioned the Paul Hogarth Company to analyse five different types of underused land and to consider proposals to enhance the environmental and community benefit of these spaces. The sites included derelict industrial land, open beach space, large development sites and land with high environment value.
A detailed and costed Action Plan was produced which considered the feasibility of a number of options including: temporary greening, short rotation coppicing, wetland creation, wildflower planting and path and access improvement. It sought to engage the wider community and to encourage the active use of greenspace in and around Irvine Bay.
In August 2011 the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company commenced work on a series of projects to deliver some of the ideas presented in the Irvine Bay Green Network Strategic Framework.
I. Irvine Beach Park
A process of community engagement sought to take account of the needs and aspiration of the users of the Irvine Beach Park and the local community. The results of this community engagement project were collated and, in 2012, work commenced on the regeneration of the Irvine Beach Park. The programme of improvements included:
This has resulted in significant improvements to the environment and aesthetics of the Irvine Beach Park. It is hoped that this will encourage more people to use the Beach Park and will improve the overall visitor experience.
II. Irvine Bay Green Network: Irvine New Town Trail
The Irvine New Town Trail is a 20km circular route of paths which provides off road routes to schools, connects communities to the town centre, and creates wildlife corridors and pleasant green spaces. With the funds available through the CSGN Development Fund, the Irvine Bay Regeneration Company improved path connections and accessibility for the users by providing dropped kerbs and removing chicanes. It also planted trees and wildflowers along the path to improvement the environment and aesthetics of the area, and erected new signs to direct people from the local community on to the path network and to provide interpretive information about the natural environment and heritage of the green spaces.
In 2012, the URC used a further grant from the CSGN Development fund (CSGN412) to create a new footpath linking key areas of employment in the Irvine Enterprise Area. This footpath encourages local people to walk to work, and the tree and wildflower planting along the edge of the path provides an improved environment for employees. CSGN funding was also used to create a small garden on area of derelict land in the Stevenston town centre, improving the appearance of the local area and fostering community pride.
This project encourages outdoor recreation and active travel through investment in access routes and good quality greenspace.
It engages local residents and stakeholders, engendering pride in the project and helping to develop a sense of ownership of the local environment.
The project provided a boost to the economy of Irvine Bay by working with local contractors, and by providing valuable training and work experience for local young people who were previously unemployed.
The project has improved the biodiversity of the area by planting wildflowers, trees and shrubs all with local provenance. In doing so it has improved wildlife corridors and helped to create an integrated habitat network.
"North Ayrshire Outdoor Access Forum welcomes the substantial improvements made to outdoor access in the Irvine area by the Irvine Bay Green Network Project. These works have created improved opportunities for active travel and physical activity throughout Irvine for all ages and abilities making the town more attractive and accessible."
North Ayrshire Outdoor Access Forum
"The green network improvements at Irvine Beach Park and Ardeer Quarry through the Irvine Bay Green Network Project have improved the image of both areas and local communities' perceptions of safety and confidence in using these areas. The path works have made both locations more accessible for everyday journeys which enables local communities to connect with the sites and have an increased pride in the local area. This will improve local communities' health and well-being in the long run and improve their appreciation of the natural environment."
North Ayrshire Council, Access Officer, Louise Kirk
Funded through the CSGN Development Fund, this project recognises potential of Green Networks as vehicles for comprehensive environmental, social and economic regeneration.
The greenspace improvements around Irvine Bay have encouraged local people and visitors to enjoy the greenspace around them. Before the work was completed some parts of the path network and green space were neglected; with broken benches and substandard paths. Since the work has been completed, the overall image of the area is much improved. People feel safer walking though the network of paths and participate in recreation in the open spaces.
Further potential benefits of the Irvine Bay Green Network include:
The development of the Irvine Bay Green Network Strategic Action Plan was the first phase of a long term project to deliver the Irvine Bay Green Network. Preparation of the Action Plan has supported funding applications and further projects are planned to expand the Green Network and encourage greater access to green spaces.
The project has also catalysed meetings with other land owners and developers who are planning redevelopment works on their sites, and there is work underway to try and include some of these sites in the Green Network.
|2011||CSGN Development Fund||70,000|
|2010||CSGN Development Fund||20,000|
|2012||CSGN Development Fund||27,000|