THE team behind ambitious proposals to transform the Ayrshire economy say the last few months have marked a significant step forward in their plans.

An earlier UK government pledge of £3.5m into the HALO regeneration project was followed last week by a further £5.3m from the Scottish Government.

It is one of a number of projects which will be financed by the Ayrshire Growth Deal, which is targeting more than £350m of funding from both governments.

Representatives of East Ayrshire Council (EAC) have joined their counterparts on their neighbouring local authorities as well as other partner agencies.

As well as making the investment case to ministers in Westminster and Holyrood, they have held a number of events and meetings to showcase Ayrshire and what the region has to offer the Scottish and UK economies.

Meanwhile, the HALO project, funded by EAC, the private sector and Diageo – is now ready to take shape and will include a low carbon development, including affordable housing.

There will also be an enterprise and innovation facility for business start-ups, a renewable energy centre and commercial and leisure units.

Council leader Douglas Reid, pictured, said: “This is fantastic news for East Ayrshire, Kilmarnock and the wider Ayrshire community.

"It represents a huge step forward for the Growth Deal as a whole as this amazing initiative will complete the regeneration of one of the biggest brown sites in Scotland to date.

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government has recognised the potential economic and community benefits the Halo project will bring to the area in terms of job creation, town centre living, increased leisure amenities and environmental improvements.

“The funding announcement by the Scottish Government, together with East Ayrshire Council’s own £2m contribution and the £3.5m announced earlier this month by the UK government means that, staring with the £25m Phase 1, this project can become a reality.”