Former Scots colliery to become health and wellness eco retreat

A former colliery in the old industrial heartlands of Ayrshire is set to be turned into a health and wellness resort.

An artist's impression of the health and wellbeing retreat planned for a disused colliery near Auchinleck, East Ayrshire. PIC: Contributed
An artist's impression of the health and wellbeing retreat planned for a disused colliery near Auchinleck, East Ayrshire. PIC: Contributed

Outline plans for the Eco-Therapy Wellness Park at the site of the former Barony colliery, located near Auchinleck in East Ayrshire, have been lodged.

The 100-acre site was bought by social enterprise organisation National Pride last year.

Tree houses and geo-domes will be placed over the retreat, where activities to promote physical and mental health and wellbeing will be the focus. A spa will be a key feature of the development.

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    The Barony will be a place of relaxation and rehabilitation, the developers said, with guests to be a mix of the general public and those referred from both the NHS and private healthcare. PIC: Contributed.

    Irene Bisset chair of National Pride, said the Barony would welcome paying guests and referrals from the NHS and private healthcare companies.

    She said it would not be a “holiday park” but a place of rest and rehabilitation.

    Some medical services for those with cancer and cardiac conditions, among other illnesses, will be onsite, but a large range of therapies will be available to all guests, including those who just go for the day.

    Ms Bisset said: “We are incredibly excited to be adding the fantastic Barony to our Eco-Therapy and Wellness collection of projects.

    She said: “There is an increasing recognition of the need for places close to nature for mental health and wellbeing, and the impacts of COVID-19 have made us even more aware of the healing power that nature can bring to our lives.

    “Guests at The Barony will experience 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.

    “Our leisure and tourism destination will also provide significant economic and community benefits to the area and we look forward to engaging with the local community on the scheme as it progresses.”

    The Barony pit was the last working colliery in Ayrshire when it closed in 1989.

    Today, all that remains of the site is a huge pit-heading winding gear frame, the Barony A-Frame.

    Those behind the new retreat will support The Barony A-Frame Trust in the preservation of the memorial garden dedicated to those miners who lost their lives while at work at the colliery.

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    Ms Bisset said there was little work required to treat the land, which descends into the Lugar Water Valley.

    Part of the vision is to make Barony a “centre of excellence” for renewable energy , with the disused mine to become a source of geo-thermal energy, which will power both the retreat and buildings in the surrounding area. Woodland will also be restored and expanded.

    Ms Bisset said education, training and volunteering opportunities would be developed at the site with “significant” local employment to be created.

    A Proposal of Application Notice has been submitted to East Ayrshire Council with a community consultation to follow.

    It is expected construction could start on the site at the tail end of 2022 with the retreat finished at the end of 2024.

    National Pride, whose registered office is in Barnet, Enfield, also recently purchased the St Ninians and Loch Fitty site in Fife, the former site of an open cast mine which covers the same area as 700 football pitches.

    The organisation said it would also become an ‘eco-therapy wellness park’.

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