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By Colin Smeeton
A feasibility study is to be carried out by Lamlash Improvements Association (LIA) into potential community uses for Whitehouse Woods.
The woods, in the middle of Lamlash, are owned by John Thomson Construction and have lain vacant and unused for more than 30 years. The site is currently up for sale through Savills Estate Agency.
Now, thanks to a grant from North Ayrshire’s initiative to bring vacant and derelict land and buildings back into use, LIA will commission a feasibility study on the possible development of the Whitehouse land.
If the site is suitable for development, LIA’s proposals would be to use the land to build a community centre, provide affordable homes and develop an accessible park. As part of the study, LIA will be consulting with village residents and businesses to get their thoughts on these proposals and find out if people have any other ideas on how the land could be used.
Timothy Billings, LIA chairman, said: ‘When the site came up for sale a number of people told us they would like to see the land used for the benefit of Lamlash. We were also told there is a need for additional community meeting spaces within the village and it is well known that the acute shortage of affordable housing is causing significant staffing issues for businesses.
‘We put our proposals to John Thomson Construction, current owners of the site, and were pleased they have supported LIA to undertake this feasibility study. If this land is appropriate, our proposals would bring significant benefit to Lamlash and Arran.
‘We are very aware the Whitehouse site has environmental and ecological sensitivities. Therefore, the feasibility study will include tree, ecology, archaeological and ground surveys and studies. The information will be used to determine areas of the site where development is possible and which areas need to be left as open spaces.
‘LIA’s remit is to undertake projects and organise events for the benefit of residents and people working in Lamlash. We want to make sure any proposals LIA puts forward for the Whitehouse Woods have community support.
‘Starting next week, we will be contacting every home in Lamlash with information about the project and a questionnaire which will allow residents to have their say. We will also be holding drop-in sessions where people can talk to us about the project and speaking to businesses to find out what type of housing could help ease their recruitment issues.’
Whitehouse Woods is named after the Whitehouse mansion which existed there in the 19th century and which was home to the factors of the Duke of Hamilton. It then became the Whitehouse Hotel which, after falling into disrepair, was demolished in 1983.
The land covers an area of 11.19 acres (4.53 hectares) and has a number of tree preservation orders on large mature trees. There are also historic ruins on the property and it is home to a population of herons.
Whitehouse Woods is centrally located in Lamlash and covers an area of 11.19 acres. Photograph: John Thomson Construction. No_B18whitehouse01
The site is currently used by dog walkers, joggers and for other recreation purposes. Photograph: John Thomson Construction. No-B18whitehouse02