Sustainable Scotland: Plans submitted for net-zero wellness park at former Ayrshire colliery

A proposal to build a new net-zero wellness park on the site of a former Ayrshire colliery has moved a step closer.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Barony Wellness park
An artist’s impression of the proposed Barony Wellness park

A planning application has been submitted to East Ayrshire Council for an environmentally sensitive eco-therapy wellness park on the site of the former Barony Colliery near the village of Auchinleck.

The park will occupy 108.8 acres and is being progressed by Barony NP (UK) Ltd, a joint venture between social enterprise National Pride UK and investment crowdfunder IntroCrowd, which purchased the site in 2020.

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If planning permission is granted then construction could start on Barony Wellness in the third quarter of next year, which would see building work completed towards the end of 2024.

The Barony project’s backers are confident that the development will be an ecologically-friendly carbon sink – in that it will absorb more carbon than it produces.

The site, states Barony NP, will also generate its own energy on site and will become a “best-in-class” example of how to use renewable energy technologies to power similar developments.

Irene Bisset, chair of National Pride UK comments: “We are incredibly excited to be submitting the planning application for Barony Wellness to East Ayrshire Council.

“At The Barony, visitors can expect a safe, restful and enlivening environment in which to relax, rejuvenate and be healthy in mind and body, developing their mental and physical strength and personal resilience.

“We are also committed to create a destination that will provide significant community benefits to the area.

“Given COP26, it is also highly appropriate that we are delivering a development that is assisting in tackling the climate emergency, aiming to showcase the latest in renewable energy technology.

“Throughout the process we have engaged extensively with the local community and the support we have received to date for our proposals has been amazing.”

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The project’s backers state that the proposed wellness destination will create education and training opportunities, including those for vulnerable adults, and furthermore that it will generate jobs in the surrounding economy.

Barony NP plans to reinvest a proportion of the profits from the development will be back into community wellbeing projects and support NHS student training.

The planned facilities include a spa, gym and pool areas, indoor and outdoor exercise and craft activities, as well as overnight accommodation.

There are also plans to include a distillery and mining heritage museum on the site and a path adjacent to the Lugar Water.

All that remains of the former Barony Colliery at ground level is a pit-heading winding gear frame, the Barony A-Frame.

Barony NP will support The Barony A-Frame Trust in the rehabilitation of the site’s Memorial Garden, dedicated to those miners who lost their lives working in the coal mine from 1908 to 1989.

The rehabilitation and enhancement of the garden will be a place of tribute and remembrance for the local community and a permanent reminder of the area’s mining heritage.