Highland Council has taken a “significant step forward” with its plans to transform Inverness Castle into a visitor attraction after appointing a contractor for the enabling works.
Inverness-based Compass Building and Construction Limited will move onto the site on October 5, and it is anticipated the work will take a year.
This initial project will include checking the 19th-century castle for asbestos, preserving timber and investigating the building structure before the full works get started.
The findings from this work will determine how long the main construction contract will last – at the moment, it is estimated to be three years.
Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Inverness Castle is a project close to my heart and I’m pleased to see it take another major step forward in its transformation from sheriff court to world-class visitor attraction with this announcement that a local business, Compass Building and Construction Services, has won the contract.
“Scottish Government funding through the Inverness City Region Deal has enabled this and I am pleased we are able to contribute £15million to the transformation of the castle.”
The work on the castle, which is supported by a £15 million Scottish Government and £3 million UK Government investment through the city region deal, includes plans to turn it into a ‘gateway for Highland tourism’.
It is hoped that will give a boost to tourism across the area and provide investment for the industry, which has struggled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
UK Government Minister for Scotland, David Duguid said: “I’m very pleased that we are one step closer to the transformation of Inverness Castle.
“The UK Government is investing £3 million in this major renovation project to create a must-see visitor attraction in the Highlands.
“We know tourism will contribute greatly to the economic recovery of the region as we bounce back from Covid-19.
“We are creating opportunities and unlocking growth across Inverness and the Highlands by investing £53m into the City Region Deal as part of more than £1.5bn of investment into Growth Deals right across Scotland, supporting the future of our economy.”
Thom Macleod, managing director with Compass Building and Construction Services said: “I am very proud of the fact that the Compass team has been successful in winning this contract.
“The award of the contract is made all the more special on the basis that Compass is a local Highland company.
“Being able to take part in such a high-profile project that will play a role in the generations to come is so exciting. The team is very much looking forward to getting started.”