Vision for Kilmarnock’s future goes wild as sweeping proposals are unveiled for the town

A radical vision for the future of Kilmarnock has been unveiled in a video proposing what the city center could look like.

A modern take on the Palace Theatre, Great Hall and Dick Institute has been featured in a new teaser video showing what a multi-million pound transformation of the city’s cultural quarter could look like.

A much-needed overhaul of the Palace Theater – the city’s cultural gem – is the focal point of the renovation with the roof, drainage and facade needing a major overhaul to ensure the future of the historic building.

Janice Gilmour, community development and performing arts manager for East Ayrshire Leisure, said she highlighted concerns over the lack of accessibility at the iconic building.

The drawings showed and enlarged the multifunctional room and the bar (the room in front of the great room)

A modern glass facade curves around the proposed new building, and a roof terrace sits atop the new entrance.

Perhaps the most intriguing plan shown in the video was a new riverside walkway in which a new path hugs the back of the hall from London Road before crossing the river to a dead space behind Sturrock Street behind the Salvation Army.

Across the water, what looks like an amphitheater

An artist’s impression shows what looks like an amphitheater across the water from Kilmarnock, next to the new footbridge, with punters watching a projected video at the rear of the Palace Theatre/Grand Hall building.

In 2019, a report presented to councilors indicated that a phased approach to repair and maintenance would cost up to £8million.

A cabinet meeting of East Ayrshire Council heard money had poured into the building over the years but major work is still needed.

Problems include water entering the historic building and a new drainage system needs to be installed.

Politicians have been told the size of the downspouts cannot cope with the water and marble levels at the base of the iconic structure which adds to the problems.

Now East Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Leisure Trust are presenting the design proposals to the public.

The amphitheater at the back of the Palace Theater and the Great Hall

A survey is now online for residents to give their opinion on the plans.

A preamble to the survey reads: “East Ayrshire Council, in partnership with East Ayrshire Leisure Trust, have developed design proposals for ‘Cultural Kilmarnock’.

“Cultural Kilmarnock has been identified as an area to the east of the city center which includes culturally significant buildings such as the Palace Theater & Grand Hall and the Dick Institute.

“Cultural Kilmarnock’s vision is to create a sustainable and vibrant area of ​​cultural significance.

“Emerging design proposals aim to improve pedestrian connections between cultural venues and the city center through the linking of green spaces and enhancement of the public realm.

“Improvements to soft and hard landscaping, lighting, signage and wayfinding aim to improve the setting, connection and offering of cultural venues.

“At the heart of the vision and emerging design proposals for Cultural Kilmarnock are improvements to the public realm, accessibility, visibility and provision of the Palace Theater & Grand Hall.”

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James C. Tibbs