Investment in town centre

Diageo ‘gifts’ Johnnie Walker site to Kilmarnock

Johnnie WalkerDrinks giant Diageo has gifted the Ayrshire site of its former Johnnie Walker bottling plant to those behind a planned redevelopment.

It will allow progress on the huge plot in the centre of Kilmarnock where the plant was controversially closed five years ago with the loss of 700 jobs.

Diageo’s donation of the 23-acre site includes a £2 million grant, which today was matched by East Ayrshire Council.

The council will now seek a further £10m contribution towards the “Halo” Urban Park project from the Scottish and UK Governments through the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

The project is one of a number of economic regeneration projects the council is putting forward, alongside North and South Ayrshire Councils.

A campus building for Ayrshire College is due to open shortly.  There will also be 3,000 sq meters of commercial offices, health & wellbeing premises, life-style shops and cafes, as well as a public plaza and175 affordable rented houses.

Marie MacklinMarie Macklin’s Klin Group is among those involved in the redevelopment. Ms Macklin (right) said: “Kilmarnock deserves the very best for this iconic site and that is what we are setting out to deliver.

“We listened carefully to what the people of the town had to say and the HALO Project will provide a fitting and sustainable legacy for the Hill Street site that will last for generations of Kilmarnock residents to come.”

David Cutter, president of global supply & procurement, at Diageo said: “Our ambition has always been to see this site redeveloped to the benefit of the local economy and community.

“Alongside the new college campus which is due to open soon at the site, we believe this regeneration plan will create a positive legacy for Kilmarnock and we hope it will gain the necessary support from the Ayrshire Growth Deal to make it a reality.”

Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said the proposals “will greatly contribute to the regeneration of Kilmarnock, breathing new life into the remainder of site previously occupied by the Johnnie Walker bottling plant.”

The growth plan includes investment for the aerospace sector at Prestwick Airport and improvements to Ardrossan and Irvine harbours, plus a marine tourism strategy.

Other projects include Scotland’s first bio-refinery development, and a medicines manufacturing innovation centre.

Diageo moved production from Kilmarnock to modern bottling lines at Shieldhall, Glasgow, and Leven in Fife.

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