A group of Ayrshire dignitaries have visited the site of a proposed ‘eco-therapy wellness park’ at the former Barony Colliery near Auchinleck.

The group visited the location to learn more about the controversial plans for The Barony Eco-Therapy Wellness Park. If approved, Barony Wellness will be a health and wellness destination providing active health and mental relaxation facilities, a spa, exercise and craft activities and accommodation in lodges and geodesic domes.

The ambitious plans for the 108.8 acre-site have been developed by Barony NP (UK); a joint venture company between National Pride UK and ESE Capital Ltd.

Vice-Chair of Auchinleck Community Development Initiative, Bobby McCallum, said:

“It was fabulous to visit the site and hear about what is being proposed, especially when it comes to the ecological benefits it will deliver.”

During the trip, visitors heard how Barony Wellness aims to enhance the existing natural environment by broadening the range of flora and fauna to contribute to biodiversity net gain, supporting further biodiversity through insect and mammal foraging corridors, and adding an extensive apiary (where bees are kept) for pollination.

They also learnt more about the ecological damage currently being done to the site through anti-social behaviour including dog fouling, fly-tipping and motor bike activity, which has led the company to carry out litter and dog waste removal, pathway and ditch repairs and enhancing site security.

Chair of National Pride UK, Irene Bisset, addressed these issues. She said: “As custodians of the site, it is deeply disappointing to see the damage that is being done to the site and the impact on the natural landscape as well as on potential visitor safety.

“It was good therefore to be able to outline how we intend to address this, and we would urge the community to be vigilant and highlight to the Police or ourselves any nuisance or damage caused.”

“As a Community Interest Company, we have the delivery of community benefit at our core and it was also good to be able to outline the considerable economic benefits, including employment opportunities, that Barony Wellness has the potential to deliver.”

As reported by the Chronicle in March, the plans for Barony Wellness have been controversial - attracting 50 objections.

Barony NP (UK) have been criticised for failing to provide key information after a public consultation deadline.

Objectors also complained about the “meaningless” wording; references to wildlife habitats and landscapes that have nothing to do with the Barony site; inaccurate assessments of native animals; the loss of more trees than originally indicated and “inexperienced” developers.

However, the proposals have been backed by both Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and Auchinleck Community Council.