Jobs boost as work starts at former Inverness school and college

An artist's impression of the new look Midmills building.

A total of 150 jobs are to be created as work gets under way on a transformation of a historic Inverness school and college building.

The demolition of all non-listed buildings at the old Inverness College site at Midmills is due to begin next month to make way for more than 80 retirement homes.

The site was bought by Highland Council and retirement home provider McCarthy & Stone after the college relocated to the Beechwood Campus in 2015.

The remaining building on the site, the historic and listed Inverness Royal Academy, will be converted by Wasps Studios into a studio and art gallery for local artists.

Under the plans, McCarthy & Stone will build 45 homes on the vacant site, with the council delivering 40 affordable retirement homes, with the project expected to create 150 jobs in the construction phase.

The scheme was hailed as a “a terrific development” when it won the backing of councillors in August 2016.

The grade B-listed main buildings, in the Crown area, housed Inverness Royal Academy from 1895 to 1979, before becoming a campus for Inverness College UHI.

The Wasps Trust is creating a £5million facility there, which will provide studios for artists, creative workshops, offices for cultural organisations and social enterprises, studios for creative industries, a cafe, exhibition space, performance workshop, maker space and cinema.

Machinery has already been on site since last month, as work to strip down old outbuildings at the campus got under way.

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has been working with the Scottish Funding Council and Inverness College to deliver the transformation.

SFT strategic disposals manager Anna Tozer said: “Our role is to work with public sector bodies to help them sell sites in ways that not only deliver receipts to be reinvested in public services, but also secures the otherwise uncertain future of significant listed buildings.

“We’ve secured a very positive outcome for this site which ensures much-needed retirement homes will be built.

“Securing the architecturally significant Inverness Royal Academy building for the local community to use and enjoy as an art facility is a real bonus, helping safeguard its future.”