A Greenplaces Strategy for Ayr North

18 December 2018 | blog, frameworks, neighbourhood, place making, strategy, working with communities

ayr north green strategy

INTRODUCTION:

This report is the result of nine months’ work in Ayr North preparing a greenspace strategy. The WMUD team included Icecream Architecture, Benton Scott-Simmons and Kevin Murray Associates. The study was funded by the Scottish Government’s Making Places fund and by South Ayrshire Council.

The headline findings from the report are:

  • there is an enormous amount of green space in Ayr North, but much of it is underused and not fulfilling its potential
  • the extent of land in public ownership is an asset which could make the implementation of proposals easier
  • many good things are happening in Ayr North, but they are focused on a few hubs and enabled by just a few individuals and groups
  • a handful of people are making the difference – children, schools and older people together with a few community groups and Ahead’s team of Community Builders – further work is needed to foster a more widespread community desire to get involved in greenspace provision or care

This report proposed a spatial strategy that set out the most effective locations for projects. The core proposal focused on the existing centres of excellence, where positive initiatives are either happening or in the making. These are at:

  • Lochside Community Centre
  • Dalmilling Primary/Overmills Allotments
  • Weir Road/Newton Green Residents Association
  • Whitletts/James Brown Avenue Group
  • Craigie Greenspace Group

The proposal is to expand the work of these centres out into surrounding areas and start to reach more people, stimulate interest and achieve more extensive coverage of greenspace projects. Other organisations may emerge in the future but for now, supporting and extending the work of these groups represents the best way forward for the development of placemaking through greenspace initiatives in Ayr North.

The report also suggested a range of project themes for Ayr North, including potential types of greenspace initiatives at a local scale and an area-wide level. These ranged from community woodlands, orchards and play areas to strategic footpath and cycleway links and wildlife corridors.

The report acknowledges that there are some key challenges and themes for the future direction of the project, namely:

  • how do we get more people interested?
  • how do we broaden the age groups involved?
  • how do we resource this?

Whittlets-Summer-Party

PLACEMAKING ACTION PLAN WORKSHOP

These questions formed the agenda for a Placemaking Action Plan workshop held on 21 November 2018. This was the final piece of engagement for this Making Places project and it was attended by representatives of Ayr North communities, South Ayrshire Council departments, Ahead Community Builder team and other interested parties.

KEY CHALLENGES AND THEMES
The workshop set out the key challenges and themes for the future direction of the project. These included important questions such as:

  • How do we foster a ‘can do’ approach in the community?
  • How do we garner funds for activities/resources?
  • We should link produce growing with a production outlet i.e. school kitchen.
  • We need to encourage fundraising for the developments.
  • We could host a Greenspace learning event/workshop.
  • Schools are ideal hubs to provide structure and opportunities for engagement.
  • We should have a more significant link to GP practices – social prescribing – perhaps through Locality Planning Groups
  • There should be a coordinated strategic approach to the use of greenspace in Ayr North
  • We have identified lots of spaces but some of these may be earmarked for other uses
  • More extensive community engagement is required – we need to get feedback and involvement from people who are not engaged in established groups.

Children's-Workshop
SHORT TERM
The discussion responses were wide-ranging and included detailed project ideas as well as broader issues. Participants addressed a range of short-term moves:

  • Establish what the community think are valuable spaces – at a micro/local level
  • Content House Wallacetown – possible use for a community garden?
  • Make minimal changes in some areas – eg places to sit/small areas of planting
  • Aesthetically improve local green space by putting in tubs/shrubs/flowers etc.
  • Identify key individuals to formulate steering/planning group
  • Connect with other active and likeminded groups
  • Litter pick/clean up days.
  • Blether Shed (AAMH) Growing skills, social skills, meetings and food
  • Whitletts Clean-up day
  • Domain Sensory Group
  • Lochside Environmental Campaign (including clean-up days and garden improvement scheme)

MEDIUM TERM
Medium-term proposals included:

  • Creating a framework in local areas which will help the community to develop their ideas
  • Kyle Academy Garden Project
  • Dalmilling Primary (Overmills Allotments)
  • Planting Trees (Orchard development)
  • Capacity building of Community Organisations (Funding Source)
  • Support and training for communities

LONG TERM PROJECTS
Long term projects and ideas included:

  • Cycle/Walk –Avenue Path networks
  • Installation of benches, local artwork/Topiary/beekeeping/protection/wildflowers/localised historical features.
  • Fairy Walk/Riverside Walk.
  • Lighting along University Avenue
  • Active Gyms/Play parks.

GRANTS AND PROJECT FINANCE
Discussions and ideas about the availability of grants and project finance included:

  • Pursue Community Benefit Scheme, which offers a supply of equipment (litter picking) coordinated by the Community Engagement team.
  • Craigie has a small pocket of funding that may be available for local groups.
  • Costing’s: Link with Garden Centre for potential donations.
  • Participatory Budgeting Funding.
  • Explore external funding streams
  • Need to use community benefit more widely to encourage small pieces of work in local communities.

PARTNERSHIP WORKING
Finally, the workshop explored some ideas about partnership working and the organisations that might lead to different projects:

  • Ahead/Craigie Greenspace Group/SAC/Elected Members.
  • Horticultural Group/students/college/residents/University/SAC/Forestry Commission National Societies/ Host organisations regarding funding of pop-up action groups.
  • Community Groups
  • Business Associations
  • SAC-Parks
  • Networking of local groups and resources
  • Three Towns Project, Dalmilling Church, Ahead
  • Newton Primary, South Craig School. Open to any other groups
  • WAAG, Community Safety, Waste management, Ahead, residents
  • CLD, Ahead, Princes Trust
  • Community Safety, Waste management, Ahead, Braehead Primary, LNG, residents
  • WAAG, SAC, Ayrshire Roads Alliance
  • NACC, LPG, WAAG, LNG, WAG, Tenants & Resident
  • Inter-departmental communication eg Planning needs to understand what community aspirations/estates aspirations are. Need more of a systematic process.

The report and the outputs from the workshop represent a firm foundation for increased levels of project work and community initiatives in Ayr North. We recommend that the strategic elements of the proposals become part of the Local Development Plan. This work can likely accelerate with the future emphasis on Locality Planning. Local Place Plans could eventually begin to make a community-driven greener environment a reality for Ayr North.

Willie Miller, the founder and principal of WMUD, died on 12th January 2021 after a short illness. Willie was a much-loved husband and father and had a huge circle of friends  and professional colleagues. He was a multi-talented urban designer whose work had a major impact on hundreds of cities, towns and neighbourhoods throughout the UK and over the past 25 years. He also worked in Ireland, the Channel Islands and the USA.

Ines Triebel has been with WMUD since 2005, and she will continue the practice, drawing on her skills as a planner and designer. Ines has worked on place strategies, masterplans, policy guidance, regeneration and development frameworks, and the design of public realm and streetscape projects. She has extensive experience of working with communities, including charrettes.

WMUD will continue its long-standing strategic partnerships with Benton Scott-Simmons, Nick Wright Planning, Kevin Murray Associates, icecream architecture, yellow book and others. Please direct inquiries to Ines at [email protected] or contact any of the practices named above.