Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Irvine Magnum Centre replacement unveiled

September 10 2012

Irvine Magnum Centre replacement unveiled
North Ayrshire Council has announced plans to replace Irvine’s Magnum Leisure Centre with a new £17.3m facility as the centrepiece of its town centre renewal plan.

Situated on Irvine's East Road the new Centre is intended to act as a catalyst for regeneration of the B listed Town House - according to a design statement.

North Ayrshire Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture, Councillor Alan Hill, said: “The Council approved the closure of the Magnum Leisure Centre in 2009 after a decline in user numbers.

“The Magnum was built in 1975 as a regional facility and attracted visitors from all over Scotland for many years. However, for the past decade or so, the Magnum has been mainly used by local Irvine residents. The Magnum incurs high running costs due to its age and often operates well under capacity.”

Designs for the new Centre will be considered later in the year ahead of a full planning application being submitted.

The new 25m, six lane pool will incorporate a fitness suite, café and indoor sports halls and complements ongoing Bridgegate public realm works, a refurbishment of Irvine Church, refurbishment of Bridgegate House and development of a new sport and leisure centre.

Subject to the necessary approvals the Centre could be completed by 2014.
LA Architects designs are being put out to public consultation
LA Architects designs are being put out to public consultation
£30m is being spent on an Irvine town regeneration programme
£30m is being spent on an Irvine town regeneration programme


Roan Rutherford
#1 Posted by Roan Rutherford on 12 Sep 2012 at 10:22 AM
I think Irvine deserves better. Another tin box like the town centre.. What this extremely important site in the historic core of Irvine needs is quality modern architecture which compliments the adjacent listed building and historic centre.
#2 Posted by Neil on 12 Sep 2012 at 11:24 AM
Agreed absolutely Roan. What a complete let down and poor response to the brilliant work done by IDC in the past
#3 Posted by Doonfooter on 13 Sep 2012 at 13:43 PM
LA Architects are based in Sussex. I googled them after being thoroughly underwhelmed by the posted images above. They do a lot of leisure centres and there is some decent stuff on their website so maybe one has to ask about the brief, budget and ambition of the Council. If these images truly reflect what's planned them somebody in the client body wants to take a look at LA Architect's website and tell the architect that they can do better and that Irvine deserves better.
Crawford Fulton
#4 Posted by Crawford Fulton on 18 Sep 2012 at 04:58 AM
Doonfooter, the architects must accept some blame for the design. The site is in the heart of a 1,000 year old burgh, which has developed over the centuries with narrow plot widths. If you must build over the equivalent of 5-6 buildings, you must so do with a lot more skill than LA have shown here. Perversely, and this may be down to their incompetent brief by North Ayrshire Council, a new square is inserted into the historic line of he High Street. This totally screws up the rhythm of that street and destroys the setting of the beautiful Grecian-style 1859 Townhouse (whose visual impact depends partly on the buildings on either side of it being on the heel of the pavement, so that the slight setback of the civic building gives it a prominence in the street).
#5 Posted by Doonfooter on 18 Sep 2012 at 09:36 AM
Crawford, I agree with you 100% and you clearly know Irvine. I am sure the Council as the client body will have employed all manner of project managers and in-house consultants to progress this project. I am simply suggesting that as the client who is paying for this it is beholden on the Council to ensure they not only get good value for money but that they get a quality, site specific building which delivers a carefully and properly considered response to brief. Each stakeholder has a duty to question the architect's response to this brief. No stakeholder should expect to hide behind the "its all the nasty architect's fault and there was nothing we could do about it, honest!". The design should be questioned and appraised by all bodies involved at each stage both to challenge the design team and ensure that the end product delivers and enhances Irvine's public realm. Questions should be asked of the design and unless the client is 100% happy the design team should up their game. There is no excuse for meakly accepting the mediocre and each stakeholder has a part to play.
Crawford Fulton
#6 Posted by Crawford Fulton on 18 Sep 2012 at 17:28 PM
I take your points, Doonfooter. I am an Irvinite who studied Town Planning with a view to 'getting my own back' on a profession which the Irvine Development Corporation gave me cause to despise. I don't blame the architect alone, I have far greater contempt for North Ayrshire Council and Irvine Bay Regeneration Company (which is led by a guy with the visual acuity of the late Ray Charles). The Council, as far as I am aware, have no trained designers in their planning team. The role of Historic Scotland in this is also open to question (the scheme is in the centre of a conservation area, it affects the setting of several listed buildings and will lead to the demolition of 2 listed properties, including a much loved primary school (now a busy community centre) which was built in 1845).

A debate is raging locally at the moment:

A major flaw in all this is the lack of transparency - the 'public' consultations were with the architects (who apparently did not respond to letters from the town), NAC ducked out of this. The proposed demolition works were not adequately advertised at the time of the Listed Building Consent application (on this point, when I worked in Glasgow City Council we would not have accepted an application for demolition without a full planning application for the site's redevelopment). The whole thing has an even nastier taste as NAC are voting tomorrow on buying the Townhouse and adjacent land for £1 from the Common Good. This sale will end funding for the town's popular Marymass Festival (which receives its funding from the Common Good). The District Valuer gave, as his reason for this valuation, that it would cost £3.7m to repair the building. A Listed Building in community ownership would attract grant aid, this is not mentioned in then report of the valuation.
#7 Posted by Amanda on 18 Sep 2012 at 19:27 PM
If there is a sharp decline in the amount of people using/demanding the sevice of a lesuire centre, why go to the expence (£17.3 million) of building another?? Never mind what an ugly eyesore it would be!
And I can't understand how the townhouse and adjacent land can be bought for just £1??!! Can someone explain this to me? If land is so cheap i'd build a house on acres of land and live in a mansion like a queen!!
John McDowell
#8 Posted by John McDowell on 7 Nov 2012 at 21:55 PM
This is just typical of North Ayrshire Council. The proposed new Magnum will look utterly hideous at the proposed site. If the current magnum is not being used to its full capacity the surely it should be up to north Ayrshire Council to do its utmost to promote the use of the Magnum. I agree with Amanda, why go to the expense of building another? North Ayrshire Council appear to have a heck of a lot of money to burn. The old Dreghorn Primary School was reported to cost £1.9million to repair which they couldn't afford but yet they managed to build the new Primary School which opened a couple of weeks ago at a cost of £9million with no pick up / drop off facilities for parents and children who are too lazy to walk the short distance to school.
NAC need to find out why the existing Magnum is being underused and must try to encourage more people to use it, rather than build this new Magnum that looks so out of place.
#9 Posted by R WALKER. on 26 Nov 2012 at 20:17 PM
The building of a new leisure centre is something IRVINE town centre can do without.There is at least a ten million pound saving by revamping the MAGNUM now.Bringing money into the town,rubbish,an ENGLISH firm are building it,with BELGIAN metal and DUTCH wood?! The road system will need to be revamped,as the town is gridlocked most days between 3.30pm and 6.oopm.With the expected 5000 people per day using the new centre and visiting the town house to see IRVINE artifax,walking 500 yards to a carpark that will probably take 15 to 20 minutes to get out of,after crossing two roads with children.I am quite glad I will be to old to use it by the time it's built.On money,safety,pollution and common sense, JUST SPEND MONEY AND MAKE THE MAGNUM A PLACE TO BE PROUD OF.
#10 Posted by AnniGalston on 3 Jan 2013 at 14:46 PM
The current Magnum is a beautiful building on a wonderful site and holds happy memories for many. I, for one, am sick of this 'throw away' mentality that seems so prevalent these days. Spend a little money on restoring the fabulous original Magnum and watch the people come back in their hordes! Had money been spent on the upkeep of the present facilities over the years, this situation would not have occurred. No doubt if the new centre is built, insufficient funds will be spent on its upkeep and new plans to replace it will appear in 40 years' time. We need to look after and cherish our splendid buildings, not demolish and replace!
Mark Thomas
#11 Posted by Mark Thomas on 1 Feb 2013 at 15:24 PM
I just don't know how its going to fit into the town centre. There just doesn't seem to be room where the old police station is and there surely cannot be enough room for sufficient parking spaces. Irvine is falling to pieces so perhaps spend some of the money on repairing this!
Stuart C
#12 Posted by Stuart C on 7 Mar 2013 at 18:46 PM
Why not build a 'new' Magnum at the old Volvo site? Plenty of space for everything the town requires, parking would be ample maybe even room for a shop or two? And it's on the bus route.
#13 Posted by Gemini15 on 26 May 2013 at 12:31 PM
I agree with annigalston, istead of chucking away the current magnum, NA leisure spend the money needed to replace on the existing. Really are the developers so not used to irvine town centre, the traffic there can be problematic. why add to it. People wont. come if they know it will cause traffic problems.
#14 Posted by Charlotte on 14 Jul 2013 at 14:06 PM
Personally I loved coming to Irvine with my friends from Ayr for ice skating. It was not so much the town, or the look of the building (perfectly adequate) as the yobs that terrorised us. As a group of eighteen year old girls at the time, more than once we were targeted by bottle-throwing, swearing, drunk teenagers that eventually had us too terrified to return. We even saw them throwing objects at a woman with a baby in a pram. Irvine clearly has bigger problems than the leisure centre - maybe money should be spent on that? You would think the presence of the centre would give youths something to do other than hang around on the streets, but even inside, they still relentlessly bullied younger children and stood at the sides jeering everyone else during skating. Even if a new centre is built, I will not be taking my younger siblings near Irvine.
#15 Posted by TC on 19 Jul 2013 at 14:51 PM
I am at my wits end with our locally elected officials. For the scale of this 'development' it seems to have been quietly mentioned in the passing, which seemingly ticks the public consultation box.

Every reason given why this should not be the councils route for regeneration is met with, "yes, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a positive difference which will last for generations to come". That seems to usurp any rational thought, and trump material considerations such as capability to expand based upon population growth figures. This seemingly is not a material consideration for planning purposes. What? Yes!

I'll keep my comments towards architectural considerations in keeping with the site I am posting on.

1) The building is a peculiar shape (and it is) due to its functional necessity. This is as specified within NAC planning meeting minutes. No mention made that the siting of the building may also be driving some of the problem is this department.

2) A response from my local councillor stating that we have the opportunity of building something which will serve Irvine for generations to come. You can draw your own conclusions from this statement.

To summarise I as an Irvinite am angry and frustrated by the closure of the Magnum, the quality and scale of the replacement, and the lack of integrity and vision shown by NAC.
#16 Posted by ROBERT MILLIGAN on 9 Feb 2014 at 22:16 PM
Irvine Resident
#17 Posted by Irvine Resident on 11 Apr 2014 at 12:13 PM
I can't wait for the new leisure centre to open. The pictures above look good and I think it will give Irvine the boost it's been sorely needing lately. The design does a look a little out of place but there's still work going on to improve the surrounding buildings which will minimize the visual difference between old and new. The town house should probably be pulled down along with a few other nearby structures. I can't see the attraction of keeping old buildings that constantly need repairing, pull them all down and look to the future. I hope the lack of parking spaces will encourage more people to use public transport when going in to town as well as other places, there are too many cars around. The East Road site is perfect if the right type of businesses (shops, restaurants etc.) can be installed at the Cross.
Magnum visitor
#18 Posted by Magnum visitor on 4 Oct 2014 at 13:25 PM
Is this happening or not? I visit from Falkirk to see family in Irvine. I love the Magnum and visit every time I'm here. I won't be visiting the new Magnum as it will be over priced and will have less facilities. Use any money set aside for a new leisure centre for long distance advertising and to reopen closed facilities in the current Magnum. There is no other leisure centre like this in the country hence why it's lasted almost 40 years. Why would you turn your back on it now. If you improved it instead of burning money building 'the big idea' next to it you would be back to 90's visitor numbers.
#19 Posted by irvineite on 14 Nov 2014 at 22:35 PM
I too dont like the new proposed buildings style? It doesnt fit in the town centre well either n the traffic it will increase will be terrible, noisy n dangerous! I would be happy if the powers that be would improve the existing magnum and provide a propper public transport to the front door! This is the main reason most people that have spocken to are concerned about as i too would use the magnum much more if it was safer to get to and from on public transport as not everyone has a car n its not very safe to walk to the magnum on your own at night or when its dark which seems to be about 4pm now its winter! So coke on north ayrshire council improve the magnum we have and install a decent bus service to n from the magnum andcaround irvine especially to killwining road and beyond! Please?
christine mccurdie
#20 Posted by christine mccurdie on 1 Dec 2015 at 12:18 PM
the new magnum will be worse, why cant they make the new magnum better instead of making a new one? create a bus service instead of making the town centre worse. its difficult enough to get a bus through Irvine cross without the traffic becoming worse.
Kenneth Campbell
#21 Posted by Kenneth Campbell on 22 Feb 2017 at 20:49 PM
Much of the comment made about the Magnum is completely disjointed from the "real world." Its development in the mid 1970s is simply history, but it was brave at the time. Nothing like it surfaced in the rest of Ayrshire then. However, aside from the council's management of the centre, time takes its toll, and as is the case with every part of the built environment, it was badly failing positive use.
Its replacement is a bang up to date facility and will outperform the 40 year old structure comfortably. Further, the real context for change is that the beach park will be redeveloped positively, something the Development Corporation couldn't pursue because of restrictions enforced from explosives handling across the river at Ardeer! I can offer assurance that IDC thoroughly investigated development options for the beach park, but these constraints could not be beaten.
Mr Fulton needs to research "context"! He didn't like the "brutalist architecture" of the Rivergate, but the same approach was used throughout Europe....
Emma Morrison
#22 Posted by Emma Morrison on 25 Aug 2020 at 19:55 PM
Why the hell did you make the Portal? People made so many memories at the Magnum and you decided to knock it down.. Absolutely unbelievable.

Post your comments


All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.


Back to September 2012

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.