The Port of Inverness chief executive says prospects are “better than they have ever been” for the city’s waterfront.
Sinclair Browne says he hopes work could start by 2019 on a heritage trail linking the city centre to the harbour, a possible trigger for the wider Harbour Gait development by Inverness Marina.
He said that a major hotel or a corporate headquarters are possible uses for the land, but stressed any future project will be demand-led.
Mr Browne said: “I would say that prospects are better than they have ever been before (for the waterfront). If the economy continues to improve then yes, we would like to think the demand would be there for such uses. I would like to see high value uses.
“Lots of cities want access to the waterfront and water seems to be one of the major catalysts for development, and there is an opportunity to create something which would be a gateway for the Highlands and the city itself.”
Mr Browne said that he is having ongoing discussions with parties who are interested in the Harbour Gait site.
The harbour trust’s recent annual report states that there will be a first and second phase to these plans, with the first phase focusing on the 1.85 acre, L-shaped piece of land at the end of the marina and close to the entrance to the Caledonian Canal.
Mr Browne said that phase two would involve development of the remaining foreshore land owned by the trust, and that plans are at a very early stage.
He said that a heritage trail based on the history of the city’s harbour area would form part of a new maritime quarter encouraging more tourists and locals to visit the waterfront. Interpretive boards, cycle paths and landscaping would form part of the project.
A firm of landscape architects has been engaged to look at creating the trail between the Ness rail bridge, the site of the former Inverness Harbour Office and Inverness Marina.
Mr Browne said the initial report has been completed and that the trust will be engaging with Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enteprise in the new year.
He added: “I’d like to see work start (on the heritage trail) sooner rather than later.”