Conservation applications required to enable Inverness Castle to be revamped into a cultural centrepiece for the Highlands have been lodged in the latest milestone for the project.
The applications, submitted by project architects LDN Architects, are in preparation for the main building works and signal progress in the planned transformation for the castle to become a tourism gateway for the Highlands.
A three-phase vision includes new galleries, museum displays, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, viewing platform and public spaces.
The applications lodged with Highland Council are for listed building consent and building warrant approval.
The applications cover the works necessary to restore the Category A Listed building and convert it for use as a new visitor attraction.
At present, the proposed works include the careful conservation of the building fabric, accessibility and environmental upgrades, and contemporary new additions.
In the latest Inverness Castle milestone, the major works contract will be subject to a tender process beginning in spring.
Given potential impacts arising from Brexit and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the programme of works for the main tender will not be finalised until completion of the enabling works, which involve demolition work, asbestos surveys, timber preservation surveys and structural checks.
The transformation of Inverness Castle is supported by £15 million Scottish Government and £3 million UK Government investment through the £315million city region deal.
The project aims to support economic growth throughout the Highland area, creating a sustainable, viable and “must-see” attraction that will celebrate the spirit of the Highlands.
Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael, said: “The Inverness Castle project is vital to the regeneration of our city centre and the wider tourism economy of the Highland region.
“It is exciting to see the progress towards the Inverness Castle becoming a ‘must-see’ attraction that will draw visitors to the Highlands.”
Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing, co-chairman of the Inverness Castle delivery group, added: “The Inverness Castle project is a critical part of the revitalisation of the tourism economy of the Highlands.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the ongoing renovations and has provided £15 million to this proposal through the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.
“I am pleased to see this latest milestone reached and look forward to seeing the renovations take shape.”
UK Government Minister David Duguid said: “The transformation on Inverness Castle will deliver a tremendous boost for the region.
“I was impressed when I visited the development last year, and I am glad to hear that good progress continues to be made.
“Projects like this are vital to our economic recovery from coronavirus.”
The castle had housed criminal courts until the move of the law courts to the Inverness Justice Centre last year.
Since then, the new Inverness Castle project has hit several milestones, despite Covid.
The re-development of the building is being managed by High Life Highland on behalf of Highland Council.
The Scottish Government, UK Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International, Historic Environment Scotland, and Nature Scot are among partners of the project.
The vision includes new galleries to bring national and international exhibitions to the Highlands, new museum displays celebrating the culture and heritage of the Highlands, as well as shops, restaurants, bars and cafes promoting the best of Highland crafts and produce.
The latest Inverness Castle milestone takes this a step closer.