Three Sutherland towns are to receive a funding boost for community projects including signage, leisure provision and car park improvements.
Brora, Golspie and Dornoch each receive £28,000 allocated by Highland Council to Sutherland from the Scottish Government’s latest £1m addition to its Town Centre Fund.
For Golspie, the cash means a second community hall for the town, aimed mainly at the younger population.
Go Golspie recently purchased the former Church of Scotland Fountain Road Hall with £148,000 from the Scottish Land Fund and is poised to open it as a venue for community and private functions.
But the development organisation realised there is also a need to provide facilities for the younger generations.
It’s using £20,000 towards a renegotiated 50 year lease from the council to give the former YMCA building a complete new lease of life with facilities for toddlers through to teens.
The Victorian building hosts the town clock, and is an iconic building on Golspie’s main street.
It has fallen into disrepair over the past couple of decades, although it is still home to the youth club in a rundown 1970s rear extension.
Now the building can get a new lease of life, starting with roof and electrical repairs and a toilet refurbishment.
In stage 2, the extension will get a complete makeover, including a games hall and social area for TV and games, potentially doubling as a cinema.
Go Golspie’s chairman Ian Sutherland said: “The hard work begins now as we get the stage one repairs under way and raise the money for stage two.
“The YMCA is a huge part of the future for Golspie.
“The pandemic has brought the community together and re-ignited values of community spirit that got lost over the past decades.
“People are trusting folk again and wanting to work towards the common good, after coming together this year to help others.”
Go Golspie and Brora and District Action Group (Badag) will also use some of their town centre funds for signage.
Golspie plans to erect a number of tourism signs on the A9 as it passes through the town to point out its attractions, while Badag will use £10,000 for new gateway signage highlighting its local facilties and natural attractions.
Badag has also earmarked £18,000 to provide dedicated motorhome parking spaces within the existing lorry park, including electric hook-ups.
Dornoch Area Community Interest Company (DACIC) will use its latest funding boost towards the first phase of ‘Project Curlew’.
This seeks to create 38 car spaces, four dedicated motorhome spaces, coach and motorhome spaces, eight motorcycle spaces and 10 bicycle stances on part of the former abattoir site.
There will also be disabled and parent and child spaces, and charging points for four vehicles and one for e-bikes.
Sutherland county committee chairman, councillor Richard Gale said the projects would greatly benefit the town centres, bringing them confidence and extra employment.
Eleven local organisations submitted proposals totalling £300,000 for the £84,000 pot.
Mr Gale said: “I would like to thank everyone who submitted a proposal.
“There were great proposals which were discussed, however, the approved projects were selected for their ability to deliver improvements to our communities within a short timeframe.”
The projects have to be completed or substantially underway by next March.