IHBC’s Professional signpost: Ayr Station Hotel Fire – Action and reaction in Scotland’s parliament and beyond

Impacts of the recent fire at Ayr Station Hotel were raised in the Scottish Parliament with The First Minister by Sharon Dowey MSP, while a roundtable there also explored ‘all options for retaining the historic Ayr Station Hotel for the benefit of the town’, leading to a letter to South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Mike Newall, signed by six MSPs.

image for illustration – Ayr Station Hotel By Goodreg3 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

… view of a leading building conservation engineer….the building can be stabilised without substantial demolition…

The Scottish Parliament (Meeting of the Parliament 16 November 2023 [Draft]) writes:

[Ayr Station Hotel Fire]

Sharon Dowey (South Scotland) (Con)

It is almost eight weeks since I raised in the chamber the issue of the fire at Ayr station hotel. Ayr station is still closed, the surrounding roads are closed because of safety concerns and local businesses are suffering. I ask again what funding and help the Scottish Government will provide to help to find a speedy resolution.

The First Minister (Humza Yousaf)

I thank Sharon Dowey for raising an important issue. All our hearts go out to the communities that have been affected by the disruption from the Ayr station hotel fire. I will ensure that a written update is provided to Sharon Dowey on the actions that we have taken alongside our partners in Ayrshire. I again commend our brave firefighters in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, who diligently and efficiently dealt with the tragic fire at the hotel. I will ensure that Sharon Dowey gets full details of our interactions with the local authority and of the support that we can provide.

MSPs write to South Ayrshire Council’ Chief Executive Mike Newall

… I write on behalf of MSPs for Scotland South and West regions to outline our concerns regarding the future safety and preservation of Ayr Station Hotel.

On 15th November, a roundtable was convened at the Scottish Parliament where we heard from a variety of groups who are unified in wishing to see the building made safe and for all options for retaining the historic Ayr Station Hotel for the benefit of the town to be openly and carefully considered while enabling the road and railway to be urgently reopened.

We noted the view of a leading building conservation engineer who carried out a detailed inspection just before the fire and has visited since. His professional opinion is that the building can be stabilised without substantial demolition, a view supported by 20 Scottish architects and conservationists in a letter to The Times.

We support these aspirations and agree that the possible loss of Ayr Station Hotel would be a huge blow for Ayr’s and Scotland’s heritage. We resolved to seek Government intervention to assist the Council with achieving an outcome which benefits the people of Ayr and the heritage of the town.

The key message of the meeting was the need for proactive and transparent action that considers all outcomes for the Station Hotel while securing public safety. We therefore call on the Council to respond positively and pro-actively and:

  1. Stabilise the building immediately, and allow the re-opening of the road and station, avoiding major demolition.
  2. Publish and immediately make public all assessment reports and drone footage of the building’s condition;
  3. Communicate and publish the intended strategy for ongoing works;
  4. Carefully consider all possible options for the retention and re-use of Ayr Station Hotel as a landmark for the town, avoiding hasty decisions on demolition. Publish these alternatives, working with partners to establish funding and development partner options.

It was stated at the roundtable that three hotel operators have expressed an interest in taking on the building alongside a local development partner and that this has been communicated with the Chief Executive. We request details of this initiative and the Council’s response.

Signed by: Siobhian Brown, MSP; Katy Clark, MSP; Emma Harper, MSP; Carol Mochan, MSP; Colin Smyth, MSP; Martin Whitfield, MSP

See the Parliamentary report HERE (search for Ayr)

Download the letter on the Save Britain’s Heritage website

See also NewsBlogs:

IHBC features ‘Heritage the doorstep’: Demolishing Ayr Station Hotel ‘would have huge environment impact’

IHBC features ‘Heritage from the doorstep’: Haunting pictures show aftermath of devastating fire to Ayr Station Hotel

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