A CONTROVERSIAL call has been made to turn an iconic seafront putting green into a car park.

Business owners want the open space in front of Barrfields converted to create hundreds of new spaces for vehicles - a move they claim could transform the fortunes of the town's tourism trade.

Traders say a lack of parking is crippling the town centre and say the creation of a new car park is vital for the area to prosper.

Businessman John Corrigan is leading the call for Barrfields Putting Green to be coverted.

He said: "The council created a car park at the Stevenson Institute, which was a publicly gifted building to the town, and then proceeded to build over it.

"There needs to be some radical plan.

"I talk to all the traders and the lack of parking is affecting everybody in the town. Something has to be done to provide more access.

"If you walk around the local street at 9am and see all the cars, then come back three hours later, it is all the same cars parked there. There is no passing trade coming and going because there is nowhere to stop.

"People are getting pushed out of the town centre.

"At a time when supporting local business is so important, we really need to do something.

"You could have 300 car parking spaces at Barrfields Putting Green, which would transform Largs.

"We already have a putting green at Largs at Mackerston - we don't need two in town.

"We need people to push for this change."

Mr Corrigan says another way to tackle the issue would be clamping down on how long drivers can leave their cars.

He added: "Bringing in hourly parking restrictions to the town centre would work, but essentially the issue is a lack of room."

Scott Paton, owner of AD Paton Butchers, said: "It is the biggest problem for businesses in Largs - we have lots of independent shops yet people have nowhere to park.

"In places like Irvine, there are car parks everywhere."

Mr Corrigan added: "North Ayrshire Council attempted to buy the Rivergate shopping mall in Irvine and look at lots of regeneration plans, but they need to look at regeneration in Largs too. MSPs and councillors should be getting involved - there is a parking crisis in this town."

John Watson, of C Fayre, said: "I have been here 25 years now, and the lack of parking is a big issue.

"I think it would be good if they can get a multi-storey car park at the Gateside Street car park. I don't know whether it would be cost efficient, but I don't know if an

"One customer from Greenock this week told me she nearly turned back as she spent so long trying to get a space.

"We need more footfall into the town or shops will close."

Toni Dawson, who is the lessee and operator of Barrfields Putting Green, said: "It was touted years ago and I have no objection to some of the land being used. At the time the council didn't want to utilise it as a car park, but I have never had any objection to it.

"Car parking is a problem. I have been here for nearly 20 years now and people have been talking about it for all that time - all I can do is concur."