Council plans to convert a community centre are causing quite a stir in Catrine.

Residents are speaking out over the plans, which involve converting the Catrine Environmental Visitor and Interpretation Centre into an Early Years Centre for young children in the area.

So far 34 objections have been lodged on East Ayrshire Council’s planning page for the conversion of the Ballochmyle Street site.

Amongst the reasons for objection are that that the current Early Years Centre on Newton Street is a more than adequate space for schooling the children, and it’s well located for parents who have children attending both the EYC and Catrine Primary School, which is just a ten minute walk away.

There is also opposition on the basis that the CEVIC was an expensive project designed to support a “heritage-led regeneration project” in the area, as said by local publisher Richard Stenlake, and that by taking it away from the community the council is acting detrimentally towards tourism aims.

Local woman Magz Crawford said on the proposals: “Apart from the millions ploughed into that site which includes the villages community garden that people are able to access to grow their own vegetables, it is not a practical spot for a nursery school.

“It’s close to one of the worst blind corners in the village, has very limited off road parking and it’s just about as far away as could be possible from the primary school making the walk, as not everyone drives, very long, for our youngest children especially if it’s snowing or raining.”

Other concerns have been raised that the proposals are a way for the council to profit from the sale of the existing EYC, with one objector saying: “This needs to be negotiated with the local village people and not to line someone’s pockets by selling land at the old nursery.”

When asked about plans for the existing EYC, a council spokesperson did not reveal much: “The intention would be to replace the existing Centre at Newton Street with a modern facility which will allow more flexibility in terms of what we can offer children in the Catrine area.

“We have not made any future plans for the existing building and will not do so until the acquisition of Catrine Environmental Visitor and Interpretation Centre is complete. We hope to complete the legal formalities involved in the purchase of the CEVIC as early as possible.”

The application was submitted by the council in June but was only validated at the beginning of July, a decision has yet to be reached on the proposals.