Just two of the six historic ‘priority’ projects in a town conservation scheme will go ahead.

Significant changes are set to be made to Mauchline Conservation and Regeneration Scheme (CARS) due to the pandemic, Brexit, the cost of living crisis and issues around ownership.

The £2.25million scheme was set up to develop and protect the historic town in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

East Ayrshire Council  has provided £725k to the scheme.

READ MORE: Councillor Linda Holland on Hillhead Heights speed signs

Originally due to formally launch in 2019 and come to completion in 2024, the timeline was pushed back early on.

With the arrival of Covid, the formal contract with HES was delayed and the revised completion date set for March 31, 2025.

East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet will now be asked to extend the scheme once more, this time to March, 2026.

In a report to the cabinet, David McDowall, head of Economic Growth, said: “There have been ongoing delays and implications as a result of Covid-19, the uncertain economic climate, the cost of living crisis, construction inflation and the retirement of the original Mauchline CARS Project Officer.

“Many building owners are in a harder financial position and have less money, and for some owners, match-funding repairs, which have also escalated in cost, has become more difficult. ”

Originally, the scheme had six ‘priority projects’ that would be able to receive grants to re-use redundant and underused buildings.

These were Mauchline Castle, Gavin Hamilton’s House, the Old Bakery, Poosie Nansie’s, the Home of John Richmond and Mauchline and District Kilmarnock FC Supporters Club.

Cumnock Chronicle: Poosie Nansie’sPoosie Nansie’s (Image: Street View)

Poosie Nansie’s and Kilmarnock Supporter’s Club are the only ones making progress.
Cabinet will be asked to approve is the option to increase the grants from 80 per cent to 90 per cent for those priority projects.

There have been further difficulties progressing the projects at the Mauchline Castle Estate, following the death of the previous owner.

Councillors will be asked to reallocate funds for three of the priority projects on the estate to other funding for non priority options which could be started in a matter of months.

Mr McDowall stated: “Mauchline Castle Estate, which contains three of the priority projects is currently in the process of being sold due to the passing of the previous owner.

“Given the lack of progress with the sale of the Estate, the increased level of funding required for the small to medium sized repair projects and the impending deadline for the Mauchline CARS Project, it is considered appropriate to reallocate the funding to projects that are progressing well and that could be on site within the next 3-6 months.”

The ownership of the estate has also had an impact on planned public realm improvements.
Mr McDowall’s report states: “the area to the north of Abbot Hunters Tower was proposed for improvements.

“However, it is not considered appropriate to improve this area without working with the owners of the Tower.

“Therefore, as the sale of the tower has not been concluded, alternative public realm improvements have been developed.”

READ MORE: Mauchline's Mansefield Road to be made one-way

These include lighting improvements, including adding a traditional lantern style to the medieval core.

Proposals for five small public realm improvements are being costed as is restoration of the historic boundary wall.

The final priority project, the home of John Richmond at 3 High Street, would also be binned.

The property is split with two different owners, who do not wish to apply for a grant.

The cabinet will also be asked to streamline the array of grants that property owners can apply for. Originally there were separate grants for medium/high priority building repair, shopfronts, windows and ‘rainwater goods’.

The proposals to cabinet seek to amalgamate those separate grants into one.

A Mauchline Heritage App project is ongoing, while the CARS team also worked with the The Scottish Lime Centre Trust (SLCT), produced a training programme for traditional building skills.

Mr Dowall’s report concludes with a request to extend the scheme to March 31 2026, citing difficulties getting matching funding by 2025.

He said: “Extending Mauchline CARS by a further year will address the delays and help ensure that the key projects and the economic benefits arising from them having the best chance of being realised.

“An estimated £85,500 will be required for the extended contract of the Mauchline CARS Project Officer.”

The Cabinet will consider the report on Wednesday.