Ambitious plans have been revealed to invest £13 million to secure Ardrossan’s ferry link to Arran and Campbeltown.
Details of the blueprint – which lists a series of planned improvements to transform Ardrossan into one of Scotland’s leading ferry ports and transport hubs – will be put before North Ayrshire Councillors next Wednesday (21 December).
The radical masterplan lays out in bold terms how the port of Ardrossan would become a 21st century regional transport interchange serving South West Scotland and offering world class reliability in all weathers.
If approved, the Council will work with Ardrossan terminal owners Peel Ports to improve the marine and land infrastructure around the harbour – with the aim of securing the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry service for years to come.
The proposals tabled include a new linkspan, repairs to the harbour wall and fenders, improved navigational infrastructure, a new terminal building, car park improvements, better access, and improved public realm links to Ardrossan town centre.
At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors will hear that a long-term commitment from the Scottish Government to secure the existing ferry routes from Ardrossan to Brodick and Campbeltown would be the key trigger for releasing £100 million worth of investment in Ardrossan and the wider area over the next 20 years – including harbour improvements, marina extension, modern housing and new secondary school.
The move comes after Associated British Ports made an unsolicited offer to the Scottish Government to relocate the Arran ferry service to their harbour at Troon.
Councillors will hear that such a move would jeopardise the £100 million investment plans due to the impact on investor confidence in the town.
North Ayrshire Council Leader Joe Cullinane said: “These exciting and ambitious proposals were under discussion long before ABP made their predatory bid and confirm the commitment from both the Council and Peel Ports to provide the best possible service for users of the Arran and Campbeltown ferries.
“This £13million investment will completely transform the harbour area and ensure it is ready for the new ferry arriving in summer 2018. The investment will deliver an enhanced passenger experience, dramatically improved facilities and infrastructure and – most importantly of all – better reliability and greater resilience in poor weather.
“This would also be the catalyst for further, massive investment in the wider Ardrossan area – allowing improved links between the harbour and the town and helping to regenerate an area which would suffer terribly, both economically and socially, if the ferry services were taken away.”
Following ABP’s announcement of its intention to take the Arran ferry service to Troon, a campaign was launched to retain the current service, called Keep it A to B – Ardrossan to Brodick.
The campaign has gathered support from thousands of people online via its website – www.saveourferry.co.uk – while public events in both Ardrossan and Arran have demonstrated clear support for retaining the current route.
A wide variety of organisations – including Arran Economic Group, the Arran Ferry Committee and North Ayrshire Economic Development and Regeneration Board – have all expressed their support for the retention of the Ardrossan to Brodick and Campbeltown crossings.