The Council’s Cabinet today agreed to approve a 25-year lease of the Old People’s Cabin in Howard Park to Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust (KSRHT) once it’s been confirmed that the Trust has been successful in obtaining funds to renovate it.
KSRHT proposes to turn the Old People’s Cabin into a social enterprise café to increase the services on offer within the Howard Park area as well as increasing employment opportunities for those affected by poor mental wellbeing. The project will also involve the creation of two counselling rooms for those with low to moderate mental wellbeing issues.
A substantial number of objections were submitted in relation to this proposal, many of which related to misinformation that had been circulated around communities. KSRHT therefore worked in partnership with East Ayrshire Council to produce a response to the representations received and a meeting was also held last April so that any concerns could be addressed.
Following completion of the consultation for the proposal, all documents were submitted to be assessed. East Ayrshire Council assessors noted continued objections from residents even after the inaccurate information had been addressed through the consultation process. These unresolved objections were taken into consideration during the assessment process and the panel weighed those objections against the potential project benefits to provide a balanced decision.
Councillor Jim McMahon, Spokesperson for Welfare and Poverty, Social Care and Mental Wellbeing, said: “Locally known as the Old People’s Cabin, this is a building that has really deteriorated over the last few years so it will be fantastic to see the Trust bringing it back to life. KSRHT is a well-known charity which has excellent experience with the regeneration of Kilmarnock Railway Station so I am sure that this project will be just as successful.
“The aim of the café is to provide access to services and, in particular, early intervention and prevention services, for individuals who are experiencing mental wellbeing issues. Sadly these issues have only increased following the pandemic, therefore we welcome any opportunity to be able to expand mental health support in our communities. Having the café in the park will also increase the use of this area which is a precious asset for the town. I wish the project every success for the future.”
The Cabinet decision is part of the Council’s Community Asset Transfer framework which, since inception, has agreed 63 asset transfers in community ownership/operation throughout East Ayrshire.