PLANS to upgrade a vital link road between Saltcoats and Dalry are progressing well, councillors have been told.

The B714 links the A78 Three Towns Bypass at the Sharphill roundabout to the A737, south of Dalry.

It is a vital link for road users travelling to the west coast and ferry links to Arran and Cumbrae.

Councillor Scott Davidson, North Ayrshire Council's cabinet member for place, said: “The B714 project is progressing. Project development funding of £1,212,000 to support the project to outline business case (OBC) stage has been received.

“Further funding allocations will be subject to the OBC approval with a potential 12-week approval period.”

A tender exercise was undertaken for the road design which saw road design specialists Aecom appointed in April.

This appointment will initially focus on discussion with landowners to identify a preferred alignment.

Discussions have now started with them and will continue through the design process.

The work programme includes: surveys, including ecological surveys, environmental scoping outline design, consultation with landowners, interested parties and utilities, ground investigation, initial safety audits, the planning process and 'biosecurity'.

Biosecurity measures are those which are aimed at preventing the introduction and/or spread of harmful organisms to animals and plants in order to minimise the risk of transmission of infectious disease requirements.

A walking, cycling and horse riding audit to inform the business case is currently underway and engagement sessions were being organised late last week.