Dingwall High Street is a step closer to getting its first major redevelopment for years amid hopes it will “regenerate” the town centre and attract more visitors.
Planning applications to partially demolish two buildings – the Picture House bar and the adjacent shop – and convert them into flats while retaining retail premises, have been submitted to the Highland Council.
The plan is to knock down the properties at the rear while maintaining the more historic frontages that face on to the High Street that are within the town centre’s conservation area.
The multi-million pound investment by developers Ark Estates aims to “transform” the long abandoned former Picture House – that was once home to the local cinema – to create 17 flats.
To do that the site will be tidied up by demolishing some buildings at the rear as well as providing car parking, while the existing retail premises will be preserved but refurbished.
The developer hopes that the ambitious project will breathe new life into the High Street by dividing the retail units into much smaller and easier to let commercial shop units.
Willie Gray, of Ark Estates, said: “We’re really pleased with this project as it will transform a site that has lain derelict for many years. Not only will it provide much needed housing, but it will help regenerate the High Street by bringing people back into the area.
“We believe this is the first major development on the High Street in many years and we hope it could also be the catalyst for other development in Market Road.
“We held a consultation event earlier in the year and were delighted by the overwhelmingly positive response. More than 50 people came along to see the plans and they were incredibly supportive of what we were wanting to do.”
Ark Estates commissioned Catriona Hill from CH Architecture who also designed the award winning new Falls of Shin Visitor Centre, which has already attracted national attention.
The developer hopes to have planning permission by Christmas and start work on site by March of next year.
Given the whole development lays within the conservation area and is nearby to listed buildings there are multiple areas where consent is necessary.
A public consultation last month was generally welcomed by locals who earlier feared the town would lose two shops to residential accommodation.