The bulldozers look set to move in on Kilmarnock town centre next week.
For the New Year, King Street is in line to receive a new look as a row of derelict shops are razed to the ground.
The demolition of the former Mothercare store building marks a transformative moment for the town centre as councils wrestle with the decline of the high street.
Instead, the derelict shops next to Kilmarnock Water will be turned into an outdoor area for public use.
The 20-week demolition job by Caskie Ltd will see scaffolding erected and the surrounding pavement closed.
Health and safety considerations will mean that Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) will oversee a programme of partial road closures, which will be managed to minimise traffic disruption as far as possible, officials say.
Douglas Reid, leader of East Ayrshire Council, said: “ We’re looking forward to seeing work commence on this site, which will transform the appearance of the gateway to the King Street pedestrian shopping area.
“The work is part of ongoing plans to regenerate this part of our town centre, in line with changing patterns of high street use. We’d rather see this area used as an eco-friendly, open air public space, which can be used and enjoyed by the community than have shop units, which are no longer fit for purpose, lying empty.
“As a council, community-led regeneration is one of our driving forces, we believe that working in partnership with our communities, private sector and third sector organisations we can devise innovative and practical solutions to make the best possible use of our public spaces.
“We are already engaging the services of a landscape architect to draw up three concept designs which will incorporate ideas already brought forward by town centre stakeholders. We’ll use these as a basis for further engagement in our public consultation.
“For this project, we’ll be linking with Celebrate Kilmarnock who will lead the public engagement, to make sure we gather and take into account views and suggestions from all sectors of our community. We will all also be working closely with Kilmarnock Business Association to develop a scheme which brings maximum benefit to our traders and local businesses.
Elaine Cowan, Celebrate Kilmarnock trustee, added: “We hope this project will be the first of many positive changes to the landscape and rebuilding of the prosperity of our town.
“Our aim is to ensure that local people are directly involved in owning, designing and shaping the future of our town. We have already provided the place-making ideas generated from our earlier public meetings to help kickstart proposals with the council’s landscape architect.
“We would warmly welcome anyone who wants to get involved in developing this project to build something special in the town – you can contact us at [email protected] in the first instance.”
Peter Telfer, chair of the Kilmarnock Business Association, said: “We are delighted that the council are now progressing with the demolition of the old Mothercare site and we are looking forward to working with the council and the other key stakeholders within the community to develop plans for its future use.
“Now, more than ever, we need our community to shop local and this location is a key gateway to our town and our retailers.
“We need a welcoming and vibrant town centre and, the businesses already have a number of ideas as to how the space can best be used and we want to make sure that any future developments compliments the many existing assets in our town, as well as adding new reasons for the community to come into the centre.”