Council chiefs insist multi-million plans to make the coast a ‘must visit location’ will be ‘steered by the aspirations of our communities’ after Stevenston residents objected to development on Ardeer.

We reported how Stevenston residents wished for the Ardeer peninsula to be removed from the the councils Ayrshire Growth Deal funded ‘Great Harbour’ plans fearing the Big Idea bridge reopening will affect visitor numbers and also environmental concerns.

Stevenston’s community councillors wrote to NAC objecting to the plans – with proposals including bringing the Big Idea building back into use as well as its footbridge from Irvine Harbour – with a potential second phase involving more extensive development at Ardeer.

While council chiefs insist plans are at early stages, NAC did not address concerns regarding a reopened bridge.

Treasurer Don Campbell said: “A footbridge is essentially a physical and economic bypass of Stevenston. Local people want visitors to the Ardeer Peninsula, and the associated spend, to come through Stevenston rather than Irvine.”

While Chair Ian Winton said risking the forests, sand dunes and heathery heathlands the ‘opposite of regeneration’

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “We are currently in the very early stages of what will be a long-term programme delivered over a number of years to make the Great Harbour a must-visit location.

“As part of these early preparations, We are currently tendering for work to carry out a Proof of Concept for the Harbour area in Irvine. This work will consider the key factors required for the Great Harbour to become a successful destination.

“The strategic proposition for the waterfront must be aspirational, but also realistic - building on exciting initiatives such as the Coig and establishing the Great Harbour as a tourism destination that celebrates our unique cultural and heritage assets.

“The programme will initially focus on the Great Harbour and thereafter potential opportunities for the Ardeer peninsula would be explored. This will be done in line with our Community Wealth Building ambitions, our commitment to environmental sustainability and will be steered by the aspirations of our local communities.

“There is no doubt that the views of local communities and stakeholders will be vital as we begin to develop proposals and the views of Stevenston Community Council among others will form part of that consultation.”