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Harbour bridge, coastal walks and civic art… Ambitious masterplan for Stornoway unveiled

The proposed bridge across the inner harbour to Lews Castle
The proposed bridge across the inner harbour to Lews Castle

Building a bridge across Stornoway harbour and relocating the bus station have been mooted under a long term vision to enhance the town centre.

Proposals to develop Stornoway into a vibrant town were unveiled to an island audience yesterday.

A masterplan identifies a number of strategies to improve the local environment and infrastructure for residents and visitors, making Stornoway a better place for residents, workers, students and tourists.

Planners say Stornoway is a gateway and capital of the islands with its success critical to the development of the Western Isles.

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The study – which was commissioned by Western Isles Council and enterprise agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) – sees having the harbour right in the centre of town as a massive asset with huge potential to make it a better place for people to live, work, visit, study and invest.

Initial feedback yesterday showed popular support to get rid of the wall running along Cromwell Street quay which obstructs the view of the harbour and yacht marina.

One significant plan is have a bridge span across the inner harbour to the Lews Castle.

Creating a coastal walk out to Arnish and Sandwick is another idea.

Proposals seek to open up the town’s waterfront and make it more accessible for pedestrians and cyclist with a strong connection from nearby streets.

Painting a local eyesore of oil tanks would brighten up the place and provide a canvas for civic artwork.

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Encouraging a mix of shops, offices and residential flats in the heart of the town is another aim.

A push to develop Stornoway into an University town, attracting students from the mainland, would also strengthen the island, say Threesixty Architecture who were hired to undertake the study.

Creating a commercial corridor is suggested for the industrial edge of the town and converting a former Harris Tweed mill into small workshop units to help small businesses to set up shop.

Ian McCulloch of HIE said he was delighted by the number of people who attended the event and provided positive feedback.

He said: “This is an initiative to develop a vision for the future of Stornoway.

“The study offers an independent view of what Stornoway has and how we can make it better.

“Stornoway is uniquely well placed. We have a harbour effectively on three sides of the town and the recently renovated Lews Castle – a superb flagship project in its own right.

“One of the things we are looking at there is connectivity – how do we make it easier to get to the castle from the town.”

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