Fury at plan to close vital Irvine town centre lane as locals face detour

-Credit:Copyright Unknown
-Credit:Copyright Unknown

Wheelchair-bound and infirm veterans, church members and football fans are up in arms about the impact of the temporary closure of a vital access path to their premises as part of a major housing development.

North Ayrshire Council is closing Chapel Lane, which connects West Road to the town centre along with the neighbouring car park until next April, to allow new houses to be built on the site of the historic King’s Arms Hotel.

The legion, based in West Road, has drawn up a petition, which has more than 100 signatures, calling for a better route to their premises.

Michelle Connolly of the nearby Emmanuel Christian Centre said: "The council staff made me aware of the diversion route which to someone who walks is perfectly accessible, however I could not imagine the profoundly disabled attendees that I know of attending services being able to take themselves over both hills and into the location areas for either of those groups.

“Safety is of absolute paramount importance and we support the development. Yet, the lower car park is the only host of accessible car spaces.

“Anyone who needs wheelchair access as drivers will no longer have adequate parking for these services. It was mentioned that people who meet the criteria of receiving certain benefits will have access to mybus.

“One British Legion patron was told they stop the service at 4pm therefore due to his individual needs he cannot make any of his support sessions.”

Royal British Legion Irvine branch chairman Jim Hill said: “We are not against the development which is good for the area and know the lane has to be closed for safety.

"But the route which is being suggested is past the Turf Corner, down Seagate, Castle Street and you can either turn down West Road or the Low Green. For anyone on wheelchairs there are no dropped curbs so you have to cross the road on a blind corner. We need a better route.

“They could surely open up the empty units in Bridgegate to use as a shortcut to West Road. Some kind of car parking provision is needed. There are double yellow lines down to the Mure Church in West Road. Could people not park on them while they drop folk off?"

King's Arms Hotel in Irvine
King's Arms Hotel in Irvine -Credit:UGC/Ayrshire Live

Gordon Fisher, president of the Irvine Rangers Supporters' Club, across from the legion is worried jobs are at risk.

He said: “We are going to have a severe downturn in income and have elderly members who use mobility scooters who will struggle to get here. We employ six people and if people can't get there it could impact jobs.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, there is no option but to close Chapel Lane temporarily while work gets under way on redeveloping the adjacent Kings Arms Hotel.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause, however, because the building overlooks the lane, it would be too dangerous to allow pedestrian safe access while construction work is carried out.

“During our consultation phase, we highlighted that it would be necessary to temporarily close the lane during the duration of the works.

“Alternative walking routes are in place along West Road although we accept this may mean a longer diversion than expected for many. Given the historic layout of Irvine town centre, it is not possible to provide a shorter alternative.

“We recognise the inconvenience this necessary closure will close and are currently working with our contractor to investigate options to help minimise disruption to those most affected, including investigating the potential support available through our Community Benefits Programme for voluntary and community organisations.

“In the meantime, there are a number of other free car parks, such as East Road, Kirkgate or Caledonian car parks - which are available for those wishing to access the town centre.”

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