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Ironworks venue must be replaced to maintain city centre balance, says Inverness councillor

The Ironworks on Academy Street in Inverness.

Picture by Sandy McCook.
The Ironworks on Academy Street in Inverness. Picture by Sandy McCook.

A Highland councillor has said the demolition of a top Inverness music venue to make way for a hotel would take the city back fifteen years.

Inverness Central councillor Richard Laird told colleagues replacing the Ironworks in some guise would be vital.

Were it to be lost, he said there would be no venue for live music and other events other than pubs and the much bigger Eden Court.

Petitions launched to save Ironworks music venue amid ‘monopolising’ development

South planning councillors yesterday discussed a pre-application by Bricks Capital to take the Courtyard by Marriott brand into the city centre, demolishing the building that currently hosts the Ironworks.

If plans progress, the construction of the 162-bed luxury hotel is expected to provide a jobs boost to the local area, with approximately 100 posts created during the construction phase and a further 60 jobs at the hotel once complete.

The Ironworks is, however, a hugely popular venue and one that has attracted top Scots and world acts over the years.

And Mr Laird said: “I query how this proposal sits with the city centre development briefs and the stated aims for the city centre of making Inverness ‘a great place to live’.”

Inverness Highland Councillor Richard Laird

“We have a six year plan that emphasises the importance of a mix of uses in the city centre, the night time economy and the fact that the city centre should not just be for visitors, but for people who live here.

“At the moment, we know that the Ironworks is a popular, well-used facility which serves those purposes.

“If they demolish it and do away with it, I want to know what the replacement is going to be to provide exactly the type of entertainment and civic function the Ironworks does.

“The market needs more hotel accommodation in the city centre, but not at the cost of everything else.”

He went on: “The Ironworks was a purpose built venue, so it’s not clear where it could re-locate to.

“It’s helped shore up the Chapel Street/Academy Street end of the city centre.

“I remember 15 years ago when the pubs in the city centre and Eden Court were the two places where you could get music acts.

“The Ironworks settled into that niche and it’s been a well-used facility ever since. We can’t lose that.”

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Councillors also discussed the potential traffic and parking problems around the proposed new development.

Mr Laird said he wondered how the three way junction into Academy Street in front of the site would cope with extra traffic movement from the hotel, while councillor Andrew Jarvie questioned the availability of parking.

Mr Jarvie said: “There will be 450 hotel rooms in tight vicinity, with the small Rose Street car park to be demolished and pressure at times on the multi-storey.

“I’m not convinced that a lot of visitors will arrive by bus and train, as has been suggested.”

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