North Ayrshire

‘Mark Two’ New Town – Designated 7 November 1966

In response to the 1966 Scottish Economy White Paper, which stressed the need for Scotland to attract more jobs in new industries and build more and better houses in good-quality environments, Irvine was designated as a New Town to provide a growth point for industrial expansion in Ayrshire. The fifth Scottish New Town, Irvine was different from its predecessors in that it was designed to meet housing demand arising from a rapid increase in labour and industrial development. In response to recession in the 1990s, the Development Corporation sought to reduce unemployment by improving the town’s social and environmental conditions. Today, Irvine is the primary retail centre within North Ayrshire. A number of regeneration and employment initiatives are currently under way to revitalise the town.

Key facts:

  • Location: 38 kilometres south west of Glasgow, 14 kilometres north of Prestwick – the UK’s ‘only New Town by the sea’.
  • 2011 Census population: 50,297, in 22,094 households (33,698 people in Irvine, 16,599 in Kilwinning).
  • Local authority: North Ayrshire Council.
  • Local Plan status: North Ayrshire Council Local Development Plan (adopted 2014). A new Local Development Plan (LDP2) is due to be adopted in 2019.

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 7 November 1966.
  • Designated area: 5,020 hectares.
  • Intended population: 116,000 (in the 1971 masterplan), reduced to 95,000 (in 1981) and (in the run-up to winding up the Development Corporation) 63,000 (population at designation: 34,600).
  • Development Corporation: Designated to provide a ‘growth point’ for industrial expansion in Ayrshire. Development Corporation wound up 31 December 1996.

Figures taken from Irvine ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:

Information about regeneration:

Photo Credits:

Updated: 1st April, 2020