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November 28, 2007

Disappointment for Girvan community

An ambitious plan by Girvan Community Developments Ltd, which would have seen a transformation in the fortunes of the former seaside resort, has been thwarted by a decision of the Big Lottery not to award money under its Living Landmarks scheme. Girvan was the only community led scheme in the final shortlist.


Girvan Gateway – Locked!

Girvan Community Developments Limited has received the discouraging news from Big Lottery in London that the Girvan Gateway Project has not made the final shortlist. The project will not receive Living Landmarks grant funding.

Speaking on behalf of the board, Alec Clark, chairperson, said, “We knew when we decided to go for Living Landmarks funding that it would be a really competitive process and that we might not succeed. Even so, we thought we should make the effort. Obviously, we are disappointed not to have made it to the final stage. But the directors of the company have vowed not to be put off by the news.”

Over 300 projects applied for Living Landmarks support and the Girvan project was one of only 23 to make it through to the second stage. Getting to the second stage brought GCDL £250,000 of Big Lottery funding to help to design the project in detail and to obtain planning approvals.

In their letter to GCDL, the Big Lottery explained that the 23 projects that reached the second stage had applied for total funding of over £525m. The fund had only about £80m available and so only 3 or 4 projects around the UK will get the full funding from Living Landmarks. The Girvan Gateway has not been selected as one of the 12 finalists.

The directors of the company met last week to consider how to respond to the disappointing news. They agreed unanimously to push forward with the project and were confident that they would continue to have the backing of their major partners and stakeholders – South Ayrshire Council, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Girvan Horizons. MSP’s, Cathy Jamieson and Adam Ingram; MP, Sandra Osborne; and the three elected councillors, Alex Oattes, Ian Fitzsimmons and John McDowall have all offered their support to keep the project on track.

Cathy Jamieson commented, “I was so sorry to get this news – I know just how hard the directors of GCDL and its partners all worked to produce this funding bid. I share the bitter disappointment that they feel. But, just as the directors have said, when one door slams shut, we need to find another one. I will give them whatever support I can in taking things forward. I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of the people of Carrick to thank GCDL for the work they have done so far. With their determination and the support of the local community, great things can still be achieved.”

To date, including the £0.25m from the Big Lottery, GCDL has invested over £500,000 in developing its proposals for the regeneration of Girvan seafront. The project was designed to provide much needed facilities for the local community and to attract thousands of visitors to the area each year.

Alec Clark said, “In effect, our Living Landmarks bid was ‘Plan B’ – given the chance to get up to £25m of Big Lottery funding we raised our ambitions and combined several projects into one. We had the proposed Ailsa Craig Centre, the yacht haven, and the landscaping along the seafront, all combined into one major regeneration project. What we have to do now is go back to ‘Plan A’. GCDL will focus on its original priority – to create a building that will provide the facilities that our community needs and will draw in income from tourists so as to be financially viable.

“But, we’re not going back to square 1. The time and money we’ve invested mean that we can start from a higher level. We have full detailed plans for the proposed Ailsa Craig Centre. Working with our architects, we designed the building so that parts of it could be removed if it turned out that we couldn’t afford to build the whole thing. We have a detailed business plan produced by experts in the field. We can revisit that; see which parts of the building can be removed without ruining the viability of what’s left; and produce a new business plan and designs for the centre.

“The directors know that it will not be easy. GCDL will have to source more funding for the redesign. Probably, we will have to re-apply for planning approval. Then we’ll have to go out and raise several millions of pounds to build the centre. So, it will be difficult but we owe it to ourselves and to the wider community not to let the investment everyone has made so far go to waste.”

Over the next few weeks, GCDL will hold discussions with its partners to see if the other elements of the Girvan Gateway project can be taken forward.

Living Landmarks will announce the winners of their competition in December and will give detailed feedback to the unsuccessful projects early next year. Once they have digested that information, the directors of GCDL will continue to work towards creating a significant new building in Girvan.

As one GCDL director commented during their recent meeting, “The Big Lottery may have locked our Girvan Gateway but we won’t give up. We’ll just have to find some other keys.”