Drinks giant Diageo has signed up local firm Klin Group to redevelop the site of its former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock into an area dedicated to sports and enterprise.
The two firms have signed an “exclusivity agreement” over the ownership and intended development of the 23-acre town centre site at Hill Street.
After closing the plant last year as part of a shake-up of Scottish operations that resulted in the loss of about 850 jobs, Diageo gifted ten acres at the site to Kilmarnock College for a new campus, with work due to start in August. Klin will produce a plan for the remaining land.
Marie Macklin, chief executive of Kilmarnock-based Klin, said the agreement with Diageo meant the firm could press ahead with consultations on its plans for the site.
She said: “Our aim is a dynamic new quarter for Kilmarnock town centre, based around education, health, community sports and culture.”
“The hub would be focused on facilities and premises for enterprise, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, driving a new economy for Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire, but serving a much wider area with facilities that would be unique in Scotland.
“Everything we have in mind would link into the work of Kilmarnock College, in particular, and local schools in general and, hopefully, would inspire and support local sports and cultural groups.”
The plan will include an all-weather venue for sporting events, conferences and entertainment, she said.
Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo Scotland, said: “Diageo is very happy to support this potential development by making the land available subject to the plans meeting with local community approval.”