Councillors have unanimously decided to approve preliminary plans for a wellness site near Auchinleck​.

The application, submitted by National Pride UK, for an "eco-therapy wellness park" on the site of the former Barony Colliery was recommended for approval at Friday's planning committee meeting, subject to conditions.

The unanimous decision was reached on the basis that recommendations would be met, including issues that had been raised during public consultations.

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Some of the concerns included the site layout, parking issues and the potential environmental impact.

Community councils are divided in their stance on the plans.

Auchinleck are firmly behind the plans, but members of Ochiltree and Skares have said they cannot support the outline planning application unless East Ayrshire Council (EAC) addresses several concerns regarding the developer's proposals.

Wildlife charities, such as Buglife Scotland Scottish Wildlife Trust, have strongly opposed the plans.

Cumnock Chronicle:

Speaking at today's meeting, chief governance officer David Mitchell said: "There are a whole range of issues due to the specific nature of this site and the way it has evolved since the mining operations ceased, and they will present significant challenges to the site.

"The issue for the committee would be that if there are matters which are established to be insurmountable, then that may lead to one conclusion.

"If, however, there are matters that appear challenging, could they be addressed through further detailed submissions and consideration of all the flexible factors, such as design, location layout, numbers of units, knock-on effect, car parking and all those issues laid out?"

He added: "But the reason for the recommendation as it’s presented is quite simply in recognition that it's an application in principle, and while some of the issues will be significant challenges, we are of the view that in each instance we are not at a stage of supporting the conclusion that they cannot be overcome.

“Therefore, the recommendation reflects the context and recognizes that there would be a lot more work to be done in respect to the next application in order to move this forward to any kind of final permission."

READ MORE: Community council is latest to voice Barony 'wellness park' concerns

Irene Bisset, chair of National Pride UK, said: "We are delighted that this scheme has been approved for planning permission in principle (PPP) today and would like to thank the council planning officers for their support. As the project develops, we look forward to continuing to work with them in delivering this.

"We understand and accept the imposed conditions including the mitigation of any adverse impacts on the biodiverse nature networks and the natural environment on this site, which we will achieve through careful planning and design.

"Our hope is to continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to deliver wholly sustainable and ecologically friendly solutions that will achieve the best development outcome for this beautiful site.

"We would also like to recognise and appreciate the significant support of local groups in backing our proposals and to convey our sincere thanks to them for this."